The interwebs have spent the day trying to parse out whether Silvio Berlusconi knew the true age of Karima el Mahrough, a 17-year-old girl going by the name Ruby Heartbreaker. The Italian leader allegedly paid the teen for sex last year. Italians have the right to be grossed out -- and cranky.
But the whole debate is just a reminder that Italy has bigger problems than a prime minister who can't keep his pants zipped. Like the legal loophole that has put their prime minister in this mess. It turns out it's not illegal to hire a prostitute in Italy. Nor is it illegal to have sex with a child age 14 or older. See, Berlusconi is only in trouble because Ruby Heartbreaker was 17 and (allegedly) taking money for sex.
Sex with child prostitutes is against Italian law. Is this not confusing? And hypocritical? The Italian law allows for children as young as 14 to take control of their sexuality and allows for women to take control of their bodies. But not both. Confused? Me too. Italy is teaching its girls to hurry up and wait.
I'm not condoning child prostitution, but make up your minds Italy! Either they're old enough to determine what's appropriate to do with their bodies or they're not. And if it's not -- please, please, Italy -- let's get back to the drawing boards and do a little "re-drawing" of the laws.
Because when Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez was caught (maybe, possibly) sleeping with a 17-year-old named Eliza Kruger last week, I let it pass. He was in his 20s. She's 17. It's not only legal but within the realm of possibility. Their age difference is less than a decade.
But that between the 74-year-old Berlusconi and Ruby Heartbreaker was more than 50. Between Berlusconi and a 14-year-old, it's 60. Put in that context, a man like Berlusconi ceases to be a partner and becomes an elder, a person in the position of authority, a person who can exert undue influence. Essentially, he (or she if it's a much older woman with a child) takes on the power of a rapist.
Hence the reason the bulk of American consent laws push the "start" age for legal sex to a minimum of 16 and put a capper on the age difference between a teen and his or her sexual partner.
Italy has had a hard time pinning their slippery leader down on charges a multitude of times in the past. This may be their one chance to get him out of office and into a jail cell. But it shouldn't take a loophole in the law to nail him. A rapist is a rapist, and the law should provide for their prosecution.
Should Italy shore up its sex acts with minors laws?
Image via CiuPix/Flickr