Italy's Supreme Court of Appeal in Rome ruled that women who were wearing jeans at the time of their attack cannot claim to have been raped. Judges contended that jeans cannot be removed "without the active help of the person wearing it" as long as wearers fight removal "with all their strength."
Wednesday's ruling reversed the conviction of a 45-year-old driving instructor accused of raping an 18-year-old student. The instructor had been sentenced to 34 months in jail by a lower court in Potenza.
Italian feminists were quick to express their outrage at the court's decision. Female MPs including Alessandra Mussolini began encouraging their colleagues to wear jeans and engage in a "no-skirt strike" until the ruling is overturned. Mussolini commented, "This takes us back 20 years."
Feminist actor Franca Rame, herself a survivor of gang-rape, called Italian women protest the ruling and angrily stated, "There are so many ways of undressing a woman, by holding her down, threatening her, knocking her out with a punch."
Giuliana Dal Pozzo is the president of a hotline that helps victims of violent crimes. She reported that her hotline has been swamped with calls from women who fear the impact of the ruling. "I am shocked, almost incredulous, and scandalized by this medieval decision that now makes jeans chastity belts for women," said Dal Pozzo. "This decision is going to make it even harder for victims to take the step of pressing charges."
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .