Italy: Jeans-Wearers Can’t Charge Rape

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.”


BBC and AFP - February 10, 1999

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