5 September 1981 : In Italy rape cannot be cancelled by marriage any longer

 

 

Franca_viola_ritratto
Franca Viola

 

 

The article of law whereby a rapist could extinguish his crime by marrying his victim – “rehabilitating marriage” (“matrimonio riparatore” in Italian) – was abolished in Italy only on 5 September 1981
Before that date, under Article 544 of the Italian Penal Code, sexual violence was considered an offence against morals and not against the person. It was so irrelevant that rape was a crime against the victim’s body and self-determination that it could be cancelled by marriage.
In 1965 this practice had been brought to national attention by the case of Franca Viola, a 17- year-old Italian girl who had been kidnapped and raped by a local criminal, with the assistance of a dozen of his friends. When she was returned to her family after a week, she refused to marry her abductor, courageously backed up by her family. The trial had a wide resonance, as Viola’s behaviour clashed with the traditional social conventions in Southern Italy, whereby a woman would lose her honour if she did not marry the man she lost her virginity to.
The kidnappers were arrested, the main perpetrator was sentenced to 11 years in prison and Franca Viola became a symbol of the cultural progress and the emancipation of women in post-war Italy.

10 thoughts on “5 September 1981 : In Italy rape cannot be cancelled by marriage any longer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s