Italian protests over men cleared of rape because woman was ‘too masculine’
Judges said alleged victims story was not credible enough because she was unattractive
About 200 people protested outside a court of appeal in the Italian city of Ancona after it was revealed that two men were cleared of rape charges partly because the alleged victim looked too masculine to be a target of attraction.
The reasons behind the 2017 ruling came to light only on Friday, when Italys highest appeal court scrapped the lower courts verdict and ordered a retrial.
The men had been convicted of raping a woman of Peruvian origin, who was 22 at the time of the attack in 2015, by a court of first instance in 2016. Her name was not made public under Italian law.
They were then acquitted by the Ancona appeals court, with the judges reasoning document including a passage that said the womans story was not credible enough as she resembled a man and was therefore unappealing.
The judges who were all female drew their conclusions from a photograph of the woman and because the defendants said they were not attracted to her, with one registering the victims number in his mobile phone under the name Viking.
I read this sentence in 2017 and thats why we referred it to the supreme court, Cinzia Molinaro, the womans lawyer, told the Guardian.
It was disgusting to read; the judges expressed various reasons for deciding to acquit them, but one was because the [defendants] said they didnt even like her, because she was ugly. They also wrote that a photograph [of the woman] reflected this.
The case will be reheard by a court in Perugia. Molinaro claims the defendants spiked the womans drink with drugs after the group went to a bar following an evening class. Doctors said her injuries were consistent with rape and that there was a high level of benzodiazepines in her blood.
Molinaro said the woman moved back to Peru after being ostracised by the community in Ancona because she reported the men.
Luisa Rizzitelli, a spokesperson for Rebel Network, the womens group that organised the Ancona protest, lambasted the judges ruling as medieval.
The worst thing is the cultural message that came from three female judges who acquitted these two men because they decided that it was improbable that they would want to rape someone who looked masculine, said Rizzitelli.
Its shameful. But to get almost 200 people at the protest was a miracle for Italy fortunately, it shows that sensitivity towards such topics is becoming stronger.