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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Dark days ahead for women in Italy

    Mike Morefield/columnist
    Mike Morefield/columnist

    Last week, the Italian Supreme Court handed down a ruling that pushed the rights of women back generations.

    The court ruled that sexually abusing a girl is a less severe crime if the girl is not a virgin. The ruling was in favor of a man who forced his 14-year-old daughter to have sex with him. The 40-year-old man said that his daughter had had sex with men before he raped her, and therefore the event would not be as traumatic. Egregiously and horrifically, against all that the law and morality stand for, the court agreed.

    The court stated in its opinion that in light of the girl’s previous sexual experiences, the victim’s “”personality, from a sexual point of view, is much more

    Italians should be ashamed of their judicial system, for this ruling befouled their international image with careless disregard for human rights.

    developed than what would be normally expected of a girl of her age. It is therefore fair to argue that “”(the damage for the victim) would be lower,”” if the abused girl was not a virgin. The absurdity of the ruling is terrifying, and strikes a chord deep in the heart of any person of moral conviction.

    Italy is not a country constantly attacked for its treatment of women, like Iran or China. It is a First World country, the country that chose the EU president two years ago and the country where the Olympics are currently being held; it is an ally of the United States. Italians should be ashamed of their judicial system, for this ruling befouled their international image with careless disregard for human rights.

    The previous experiences of a rape victim should have absolutely no bearing on the sentencing of a rapist. The girl was the victim of a sexual attack; whether she had sex with a man before her father raped her is irrelevant because she was the victim. Did the court genuinely think that because she had a previous sexual partner, she could more easily handle that the man entrusted to raise her and protect her had forced sexual acts upon her?

    This is not the first time Italy’s highest court has dealt a major blow to women’s equality in the justice system. In 1999, it ruled that a woman who was raped must have consented to sex based on the fact the skintight jeans she was wearing could not have been removed except by the help of the person wearing them.

    Rape is the only crime in which the victim is scrutinized as heavily as the offender; the victim usually undergoes longer and more personal interrogations than the rapist, and is sometimes told not to report the attack. These rulings will push the percentage of reported rapes to even more drastically low levels in Italy. Italian women are being persecuted, and their system is supporting it.

    The U.S. is progressive in its treatment of women, and it must force that outlook on other nations. We all know the current administration has no problem bullying other nations – now it can finally do so for the right reasons. The U.S. must push internationally to create universal rights for women, and not simply suffrage. They must have protection on par with that provided by the most ratified international human rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    A move backward in one region can easily spread and affect women’s rights everywhere. The U.S. must speak out against this ruling, censure the Italian government and proclaim it will work to see that actions like this never happen in our nation. Only brute, heavy-handed force can dislodge this degree of ignorance from Italy.

    Mike Morefield is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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