The 10-second harassment sentence reflects a country that doesn’t know how to deal with gender-based violence

The 10-second harassment sentence reflects a country that doesn’t know how to deal with gender-based violence

Fumbling doesn’t constitute a crime if it lasts just a few seconds. That’s what the court in Rome found when it acquitted a school worker of sexual assault for putting his hands in an underage student’s underwear, for which the prosecutor had asked for a sentence of three years and six months. The judges acknowledged that the act took place, but since The harassment lasted “a few seconds”., without touching any delay”, it was “an awkward maneuver, but without desire”. In short, a joke, an innocent interaction between a man over sixty and a girl who is not even of legal age.

The verdict comes a few days after the news of the rape report against Leonardo Apache La Russa and the testimonies of his father, Senate President Ignazio La Russa, who not only pre-emptively “acquitted” his son and affirmed his innocence, but also He also established the credibility of the woman who had filed the complaint and referred to her cocaine use.

These two messages share the same trend minimize sexual violence, in the first case by setting some kind of minimum duration to recognize them as such, in the second case by initiating the habit of secondary victimization even before the actual process begins. Secondary Victimization declares the Council of Europe, “does not occur as a direct consequence of the crime but through the response of institutions and individuals to the victim”, for example by blaming her for the violence she has suffered or by forcing her to have repeated encounters with her attacker (as happens in ). many cases of abuse in the family, sometimes fatal). Italy has a major secondary victimization problem, which is also recognized by the EU expert commission of the Council of Europe on the application of the Istanbul Convention and by parliamentary commission of inquiry on feminicides. In many cases, it is the court rulings that promote this attitude, which is why Italy was also condemned by the court European Court of Human Rights in 2021 for “guilty, moralizing and instilling sexist stereotypes” in an acquittal of sexual violence in a group six years ago.

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However, the impression is that we have to start from scratch every time and that every sentence that acknowledges the specificity of sexual violence is followed by another that denies it or reduces it to a simple misunderstanding. Just as after every rape the press merry-go-round of blame-pointing starts anew, from articles alluding to astounding sexual exploits, from pleas for guarantees leading to a verdict already written for the victim, for advice on how to behave or should not behave when, how and whether to report.

Although in our country there are many norms, recommendations and experts who do their utmost to explain to women how to avoid being raped or killed (although it would be more useful if these invitations came from anti-violence centers that offer more reasonable invitations would offer), Violence always repeats itself. Not just in terms of the modalities – all of which seem to have been written by the same cruel screenwriter – but also in terms of the overall cultural and social significance it entails. When we say that violence is systemic, we mean exactly that: a violence that becomes systemic and that draws women and all marginalized subjects from all sides, holds them accountable, charges their stories with spontaneous outrage and ends in themselves, and transforms them become holy virgins and martyrs only when they meet the necessary criteria to become perfect victims, forcing them to prove their innocence as plaintiffs, which may have to extend to every area of ​​life. And now also determine how many seconds the janitor’s joke has the dignity to trigger this Circus of Frightsin which everyone participates willingly: courts, newspapers, TVs, bar talkers, social media commentators, second state officials.

And like every time you feel that the threshold has been crossed, you identify the villain of the moment: the particular judge who passed the verdict, the particular journalist who wrote the offending article. Without realizing that this judge and this journalist are the product of a society that has not yet accepted the principle of a law it passed more than ten years ago, namely that “violence against women is an expression of the balance of power between historically unequal sexes”. , which resulted in Domination over women and discrimination against them of men and prevented their complete emancipation.

Jennifer Guerra was born in the province of Brescia in 1995 and now lives in the province of Treviso. Professional journalist, his writings have appeared L’Espresso, Sette, La Stampa And The vision, where she worked as an editor. She also edited the feminist podcast AntiCorpi for this magazine. She is interested in gender issues, feminisms and LGBTQ+ rights. He wrote for Edizioni Tlon The Electric Body. The desire to get into feminism (2020) and for Bompiani The capital of love. Manifesto for a political and revolutionary Eros (2021). She is a big fan of Ernest Hemingway.

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