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|Italian Minister for Equal Opportunity|
|Assumed office |
May 8 2008
|Prime Minister||Silvio Berlusconi|
|Preceded by||Barbara Pollastrini|
|Born||December 18, 1975|
|Political party||The People of Freedom|
|Alma mater||University of Salerno|
Maria Rosaria Carfagna (born 18 December 1975) is an Italian politician and former showgirl. After obtaining a degree in law, Carfagna worked for several years on Italian television shows and as a model. She later entered politics and was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for Forza Italia party in 2006. On 8 May 2008, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appointed her Minister for Equal Opportunity, a move that received international attention due to her special background and her appearance. Carfagna has been called "the most beautiful minister in the world".
Carfagna was born in Salerno; her father, Salvatore, was principal of the institute Santa Caterina da Siena, her mother a teacher. Her brother is a plastic surgeon. She describes her family as traditional and conservative, and claims that her upbringing imbued her with values of hard work and ambition. She finished a maturità in science at the Scientific High School "Giovanni da Procida" in Salerno. In 2001 she graduated in law from the University of Salerno, with a thesis on rights of information and broadcasting systems. She received full marks and honours (110 e lode) on her thesis.
Career as showgirl and model
After having studied dance and piano, she participated in the Miss Italy contest in 1997, finishing in sixth place. About the experience she later said: "That competition makes you as a woman, it matures you...All that stress, that desire to win, it makes you understand who you are." Later she started working in television, for the company Mediaset, owned by Silvio Berlusconi. From 2000 to 2006 she participated as a showgirl in the television program La domenica del villaggio ("Sunday in the Village") with Davide Mengacci. In 2006 she led the program Piazza grande ("Great Piazza") together with Giancarlo Magalli. Carfagna has also been part of the television programs I cervelloni, Vota la voce and Domenica In.
In January 2007, Carfagna was at the center of a controversy that received international attention. On the evening of the Telegatto award show, Berlusconi said about Carfagna that "If I was not already married I would have married her immediately". The comment caused Berlusconi's wife, Veronica Lario, to demand an apology through a national newspaper, something which she also received. Carfagna herself has later described the comment as "gallant and harmless," and said that she did not quite understand Lario's reaction.
Mara Carfagna is often referred to by her nickname "Mara La Bella" ("Beautiful Mara"). She has in the past posed nude on several occasions, for magazines such as Maxim. Reticent to talk about her modelling past, she has nevertheless suggested that she had certain reservations about the work. On one occasion she said: "I am a bit of a prude and I found getting undressed in front of a camera not a pleasant experience." She states that she is a firm believer in family values, and claimed in an interview that she once refused to take part in a movie directed by erotic filmmaker Tinto Brass.
Carfagna entered politics in 2004, and became responsible for the women's movement in the political party Forza Italia (presently The People of Freedom). In the elections of 2006 she was elected into the Chamber of Deputies for Forza Italia, and in the 2008 elections – running as the third candidate from The People of Freedom in the district "Campania 2" – she was reelected.. When she first entered parliament Berlusconi jokingly commented that Forza Italia practiced the law of primae noctis; the right of a feudal lord to take the virginity of his female subjects. As a deputy she was secretary of the Commission for Constitutional Affairs, and has been described as a diligent, hard-working parliamentarian. On 8 May 2008 she was appointed Minister for Equal Opportunity, in the fourth cabinet of Silvio Berlusconi, an appointment that was widely publicised internationally, with focus on her special background. Carfagna is the first female minister from Salerno.
Carfagna has been vocal on certain issues, such as the level of crime in her home town of Salerno, after having herself been the victim of burglary on three different occasions. She describes herself as an antifeminist, as she believes that liberty depends not on independence, but on rules and discipline. She opposes certain gay rights, and says that matrimonial rights should be tied to reproduction. Soon after her accession she refused to back a gay pride march, arguing that discrimination was no longer a problem for homosexuals in Italy, a statement that was strongly criticised by gay rights groups. Another issue she lists among her priorities is solving the current garbage crisis in Campania.
Following public discussions on some yet unpublished wiretapping of Berlusconi's private phone conversations, Carfagna has been widely speculated to be involved in a secret affair with the premier, implying also the widespread use of oral sex or fellatio.  
In September 2008, Carfagna introduced a new law making street prostitution a crime, with fines for both clients and prostitutes. The bill was her first major initiative as a minister. She said that at present in Italy, "as in the great majority of Western countries", brothels and the exploitation of prostitutes by pimps were illegal but prostitution as such was not. She described street prostitution as a "shameful phenomenon".
Carfagna was criticized by prostitutes' representatives and other charities for introducing the bill. However, some Catholic charities praised her for having the courage to "take on prostitution as a serious social evil".
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Liuzzo, Romana (2007-12-19). "Ebbene sì, sono una Bondi girl" (PDF). Panorama. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- "Mara Carfagna is Italy's sexiest minister". The Daily Telegraph. May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-15.
- ‹See Tfd›(in German) "Berlusconi hat die schönste Ministerin: Mara Carfagna". Bild. 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Veronese, Massimo M. (2008-05-09). "«Mara Carfagna? È il ministro più bello del mondo»". Il Giornale. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) "Mara Carfagna ministro". Salerno by night. 2008-05-08. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Perna, Giancarlo (2008-01-28). "Carfagna: nella politica ho la stessa disciplina che dedicavo alla danza". Il Giornale. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Meli, Maria Teresa (2006-11-11). "Traditi & traditori" (PDF). Io donna. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Carfagna, Mara. "Mara Carfagna - Chi Sono". Mara Carfagna. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- Pisa, Nick (2008-05-09). "Mara Carfagna is Italy's sexiest minister". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- Pisa, Nick (2008-05-09). "Former topless model joins Berlusconi's cabinet as Italy's equalities minister". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Mara Carfagna, pasionaria azzurra, corriere.it, 30-01-2007.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Mara Carfagna, gossip.excite.it, 30-04-2004.
- Moore, Malcolm (2008-05-08). "Berlusconi apoints former showgirl to cabinet". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- "Maxim cover". Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Rubino,Fiorella all'occhiello di FI, tgcom.mediaset.it, 09-03-2006.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) "Silvio premia Mara: veleni rosa in Fi", lastampa.it, 20-10-2007.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Quote rosa, lite Carfagna-Prestigiacomo, corriere.it, 31-05-2006.
- Owen, Richard (2008-05-21). "Mara Carfagna: showing her slip". The Times. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Ceccarelli, Filippo (2008-05-09). "Tendenza Carfagna". La Repubblica. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
- This is a ministry without portfolio: ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) "I Ministri del Governo Berlusconi IV". The Italian Government. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Giannattasio, Gianni (2007-11-19). "Salerno, Mara Carfagna lancia l'allarme: "Ho subito tre furti, altro che città sicura"". La Città di Salerno. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Piccinini, Pietro (2007-09-27). "Mara Carfagna" (PDF). Il Giornale. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Signore, Adalberto (2007-01-31). "Gli italiani non vogliono questi finti matrimoni" (PDF). Il Giornale. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- "Italian equal opportunities minister rejects 'gay pride' march". International Herald Tribune. 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) "Don't shoot on Carfagna". Libero. 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- "Sexgate a la italiana: el escándalo salpica a Berlusconi y una ministra" (in Spanish). El Clarin. 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2008-08-07.
- "Former showgirl Mara Carfagna comes under fire for anti-prostitution law". The Times. September 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-15.
| Italian Minister of Equal Opportunities
2008 – present