In law, rape is the crime of having sexual intercourse without the consent of the victim. The victim is deemed to be legally incapable of giving consent if they are mentally incapable, drunk or high, or a minor.
In the majority of cases rape is male > female but of course can include male > male and female > female.
Rape in Italy has always been surrounded by much debate, firstly to determine its precise status and more recently in looking at the way in which it is perceived. There have been cases of "mitigating circumstances" which have led to public outcries and there have been a number of high profile cases where the perpetrators have been treated more leniently than the victim. For example, in 1999 the Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because "it is nearly impossible to slip off tight jeans even partly without the active collaboration of the person who is wearing them" meaning that sex must have been consensual.
Currently, rape is classed as a violent crime against an individual. Before it can be investigated, the victim must make a formal complaint to the authorities; this complaint cannot be reversed. If it is reported then it must be investigated. If found guilty the minimum sentence is 3 years imprisonment.
In 2009 a law was rushed through parliament following several high profile cases of rape by immigrants. The law sets a mandatory life sentence for the rape of minors or attacks where the victim is killed. It also speeds up the trial, removes the possiblity of house arrest for the alleged perpetrator and offers free legal help for the victims. The same year the courts determined that the rape of a prostitute was less punishable than the rape of a woman who was not.
In 2010 case law determined that a client who does not pay a sex-worker for sex can be considered guilty of rape.
Statistics on rape are not reliable. There are many cases of rape not being reported or not being recorded correctly. Data is also often conflicting and comparison of rape statistics between countries is often inaccurate as laws defining what constitutes rape are different.
Rape conviction is about 50% and in 1995 rapes dropped by 10%.
- In 1992, 806 rapes reported
- In 1991, 733 rapes reported
- In 1990, 687 rapes reported
- In 1989, 687 rapes reported
- In 1988, 865 rapes reported
- In 1997, 871 rapes reported
Having said this, a survery done in 1998 suggested that about 83% of rapes and 93% pf attempted rapes went unreported.
According to legend, Rome was founded on rape. In the early days of the city the Romans were in need of wives to bear them children. In order to save the city they held a large festival to which they invited the neighbouring Sabine and, at a signal from Romulus, the men each grabbed a Sabine woman and carried them off; later these women were revered as the mothers of Rome. Talassius siezed a particularly beautiful woman and his name became a symbol of marriage later on.
For the Romans this was not a crime against the person, this was raptus which meant "carrying off by force" and if any crime had been committed, it was against the father or husband of the woman, not the woman herself.
During this period, forcing sex on a slave was not considered rape.
In 1612 Agostino Tassi raped Artemisia Gentileschi. She was subjected to legal torture to determine the veracity of her testimony but Tassi was not subject to torture to check his denials. Tassi was convicted and after appeal had his sentence reduced to, effectively, nothing. During this period rape was tied in with virginity and honour and thus it was required to prove that the victim had been a virgin prior to the rape.
To restore honour, a rapist was often given the choice of marrying the victim or paying for her dowry to marry another man who would take her, knowing she was not a virgin. This led to cases where some women would accuse men of rape purely to gain a dowry.
In 1936 the law classified rape as an offence against "public morality" rather than an act of violence against a women. In fact, this did not change until 1996 when the law was changed after much protest and debate.
During the Second World War, rape was not uncommon and many cases have been reported, especially amongst the French Moroccan troops against Italian women.
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