Ruby Heartstealer Demands Money For Role In Berlusconi Scandal

Karima el-Mahroug (aka Ruby Heartstealer) is now demanding monetary compensation for the trauma she has faced due to her role in Silvio Berlusconi's sex scandal. The weird part — she's demanding it from the AP.

This week, el-Mahroug wrote an email to the AP complaining that she had been "treated as a prostitute by all the Italian and foreign media." She then said, "I WANT TO BE COMPENSATED for having been hurt so much and all the gold in the world would not be enough." However, she would apparently accept $20,340 (15,000 euros) for a TV interview with the AP. The AP, which does not pay for interviews, has declined.

On the one hand, el-Mahroug's demands feel a bit opportunistic — after all, she came to the attention of the news media because Berlusconi gave her money and sprung her from jail by claiming she was Hosni Mubarak's niece. So clearly her closeness to the Italian leader has brought her not just notoriety, but concrete benefits. However, she's also very young, and reportedly fled an abusive family — her circumstances may have forced her to seize opportunities where she found them. And the fact that these opportunities so often seem to come in the form of dalliances (whether sexual or no) with Berlusconi is something Italian women are now protesting against — according to the Guardian, the investigation into "Rubygate" has "uncovered evidence of what many had suspected for years – that women who were pretty, dressed like dolls and were disponibili (willing to have sex with powerful men) could make millions and land jobs in positions of authority while most hard-working Italian women were struggling to make ends meet."

Cozying up to Berlusconi is emerging as one of the most viable career paths for young women in Italy — some of whom, like el-Mahroug, may have few other options. But of course, it also carries the risk of international infamy. Now that el-Mahroug is forced to deal with bad press on a scale she never imagined — at the age of 18, when she still likely has no job skills beyond her beauty — it's not surprising that she's trying to cash in. But she's barking up the wrong tree with the AP. Instead, she should write a tell-all book. Maybe Veronica Lario's publisher is interested.

AP Exclusive: Woman At Center Of Berlusconi Prostitution Probe Wants Compensation For `Hurt' [AP]
Fighting Back Against Berlusconi: Italian Women Take To The Streets [The Guardian]
Profile: Karima El Mahroug [BBC]