“The photograph present in her file would appear to confirm this.”
An Italian appeals court determined a woman was “too masculine” to have been sexually assaulted, it was revealed last week.
Based in part on that judgement, the panel of three female judges in 2017 cleared two men of rape charges. Their ruling was informed by a photograph of the woman and the fact that defendants said they were not attracted to her. One of the men had saved the woman’s number in his cellphone as “Viking.”
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The court’s reasoning was only made public last Friday when Italy’s highest court overturned its decision and ordered a retrial. On Monday, a feminist group held a protest outside the lower courthouse in Ancona, Italy.
A spokeswoman for the Rebel Network group, Luisa Rizzitelli called the judges’ thinking “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,” she said.
But Rizzitelli added that getting almost 200 people to show up for the protest “was a miracle for Italy.”
“Fortunately, it shows that sensitivity towards such topics is becoming stronger,” she said.
In 2015, a 22-year-old Peruvian woman who had gone to a bar with friends accused one man of raping her while the other watched.
According to doctors, her injuries were consistent with rape and her blood contained high levels of benzodiazepines, a type of tranquilizer often used as a date rape drug. Both men were convicted of rape in 2016.
However, the appeals court ruled that it was “not possible to exclude the possibility that it was” the alleged victim who “organized the ‘exhuberent’ evening,” according to reports.
The judges said the man accused of the physical act “didn’t even like the girl, to the point of having stored her number in his phone under the nickname ‘Viking’, an allusion to an anything but feminine figure, rather a masculine one.”
“The photograph present in her file would appear to confirm this,” they added.
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According to a lawyer for the woman, it was the judge’s determination that her client was “ugly” that led her to appeal to the supreme court.
“It was disgusting to read,” Cinzia Molinaro told the Guardian.
The woman’s name has not been made public under Italian law.
Her case is set to be retried in a court in Perugia, which is located in a different province than Ancona, at an undetermined future date.
Italy has been famously resistant to feminism. After Italian actress Asia Argento, a leader of the #MeToo movement, was last year accused of sexually assaulting a then-teenage actor in 2013, many deemed the cause all but lost. She has denied the allegations, and accused him of sexually assaulting her.
Italians have also dismissed and mocked her accuser.
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