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Italian Court Dismisses Rape Case Saying ‘Woman Too Ugly And Masculine To Be Raped’

Italy’s Justice Ministry has ordered a preliminary inquiry into an appeals court ruling that overturned a rape verdict in part by arguing that the woman who was attacked was too ugly to be a credible rape victim.

The ruling has sparked outrage in Italy, prompting a
flash mob Monday outside the Ancona court, where protesters shouted
“Shame!” and held up signs saying “indignation.”

The appeals
sentence was handed down in 2017 — by an all-female panel — but the
reasons behind it only emerged publicly when Italy’s high court annulled
it on March 5 and ordered a retrial. The Court of Cassation said
Wednesday its own reasons for ordering the retrial will be issued next
month.

Two Peruvian men were initially convicted of the 2015 rape
of a Peruvian woman in Ancona, but the Italian appeals court overturned
the verdict and absolved them, finding that she was not a credible
witness. In part of the ruling, the court noted that the suspects had
found her unattractive and too “masculine” to be a credible rape victim.

Cinzia
Molinaro, a lawyer for the victim, said her appeal to the Cassation
contested a host of procedural problems with the acquittal verdict but
said she had also cited the “absolute unacceptability” of the Italian
court’s reference to the victim’s physical appearance.

The
appeals sentence quoted one of the suspects as saying he found the woman
unattractive and had her listed as “Viking” on his cellphone.

Molinaro
noted that the woman, who has since returned to Peru, had suffered such
genital trauma in the rape that she required stitches.

The
Justice Ministry said it was conducting the “necessary preliminary
investigations” into the appeals verdict. Molinaro said the ministry can
send investigators to a court to check if there were any problems or
omissions in the sentence, even when the case is still under appeal.

The
case is the second to spark criticism in recent weeks in Italy, where
cases of sexual violence and the murders of women regularly top the
news.

Protests broke out earlier this month after an appeals
court in Bologna nearly cut in half the sentence for a man who admitted
to killing his partner. The court cited as one of its reasons for the
reduction the “emotional storm” of jealousy that the killer experienced.
Critics said the reduced sentence basically sanctioned the practice of
“honour killings.”

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