Basta! Italy's women take to the streets

The protest march on February 13 was way better than I expected it would be. Honestly, I imagined it was going to be a few hundred people at most. And when I saw that it was raining, I was sure the numbers would be even less than that. Instead, it’s estimated that some 30 thousand people came out for Florence’s protest alone, and that the 230 marches around the country saw a total of some one million participants.

It started here in Piazza dei Giudici at 2pm, by which time the square was already packed with people and the surrounding streets were filling quickly. I guess Florentine officials didn’t expect anything like this, since they neglected to close off the lungarno (the street along the river) to traffic and a few unlucky cars were literally trapped by the swarm of protestors.

The “march” was therefore a slow crawl, and we didn’t end up at our destination of Piazza della Repubblica (a couple blocks away) until about 5pm.

The most common chant that regularly punctuated the rally was “Dimissione!” , i.e. calling for Berlusconi to resign.

There were a ton of great slogans, but these two were my favourite::

That’s a little boy wearing a sign saying “I respect girls” on the shoulders of his father wearing a sign saying “I respect women”.

I also agree with this oft-repeated sentiment:

 "We don’t care if you sin, but we care when you break the law.“ Indeed, the issue is not the stomach-turning and despicable ways Berlusconi chooses to spend his private time but his flagrant disregard for the law.

It was amazing to be a part of such great energy. I honestly got a bit choked up looking around at all these women, and in fact seemingly just as many men, banning together to express how tired they are of how women are treated and represented in this country.

Getting involved in this event also led me to discover a number of cool websites/blogs for Italian women who want to ride this momentum and somehow move towards change, like and here and here.