Women in the World Summit: Weinstein accusers speak out

NEW YORK — An Italian actress who was one of the first women to speak out against disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein said Thursday that the #MeToo movement is "the most important thing" to happen to women since the right to vote.

Asia Argento spoke at the opening panel of the Women in the World summit in New York City. She was joined by Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, an Italian model who has accused Weinstein of groping her, and Laura Boldrini, a member of Italy's parliament who is an outspoken advocate for women's rights.

The panel was moderated by Ronan Farrow, who wrote the New Yorker magazine article in which Argento and others spoke out.

The three women talked about backlash they have faced since coming forward, particularly in their home country of Italy. Battilana Gutierrez did not discuss Weinstein with Farrow, saying she could not because of legal issues. Instead, she talked about earlier experiences she had as a teenager in Italy after speaking out against former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for sexual improprieties. Bodroni discussed threats she has received, including a bullet in the mail, while Argento talked about an essay she wrote discussing the insults and slurs she has endured.

Still, Argento said, "that's why we need to keep this conversation going."

"If we stop this conversation then we're really doomed," she said. "It's the one chance I've had in my lifetime to advance the whole human species because the betterment of the position of women in society is the betterment of all society."

Argento accused Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her when she was 21.

Battilana Gutierrez has said she was groped by him during a 2015 meeting in Manhattan. Police conducted a sting, with the model secretly recording Weinstein apologizing for this conduct, but the prosecutor ultimately decided there was not enough proof and did not bring a case.

Weinstein has denied non-consensual sex allegations.

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