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Dec 6, 10:17 AM EST

Italy: Former Premier Berlusconi touts women's rights record

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MILAN (AP) -- Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi is defending his center-right party's record on women's rights and has accused his main political rivals on the left of just waking up to the issue.

The media tycoon and politician said during an interview on one of his television networks Wednesday that Forza Italia has "the defense of women's rights as a priority" and "the left is airing it out three months before the elections."

While revelations of sex-fueled parties at his villa clouded Berlusconi's tenure, he cited his government's initiatives to address violence against women and pass anti-stalking legislation as examples of his record.

Democratic Party lawmaker Titti Di Salvo countered that among Berlusconi's first acts upon taking office for the third time in 2008 was eliminating a law that protected the jobs of pregnant women.

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