Two men have been cleared by an Italian court of raping a woman, because she was deemed too “manly” to be a target of sexual assault.
A trio of female judges presiding over the case based their ruling on a photograph of the victim and statements made by the defendants, who said they were not attracted to her.
The shock decision has sparked fury in the city of Ancona, where around 200 people protested outside the court of appeal yesterday.
Both Italian men, whose names were not released, were originally convicted of raping the Peruvian-born woman in 2016, according to The Guardian.
However, the ruling has since been overturned by the three female judges, who agreed with the men’s argument that the woman wasn’t attractive enough to want to rape.
The judges’ reasoning document reportedly included a passage that said the woman’s story was not credible enough, as she resembled a man and was therefore sexually unappealing.
One of the men had registered the woman’s number in his phone under the name “Viking”, the court heard.
C è un momento in cui i click sulla tastiera non bastano più e bisogna scendere in strada a difendere i più deboli, le vittime e la nostra Costituzione. Oggi ad #Ancona alle 13.30 venite con noi nei pressi di Piazza Roma per sensibilizzare tutti e tutte. #flashmob #sentenza pic.twitter.com/CSGwgER1nZ— Rebel Network (@RebelNtwk) March 11, 2019
The woman’s lawyer, Cinzia Molinaro, told The Guardian: “I read this sentence in 2017 and that’s why we referred it to the supreme court.
“It was disgusting to read; the judges expressed various reasons for deciding to acquit them, but one was because the (defendants) said they didn’t even like her, because she was ugly.
“They also wrote that a photograph (of the woman) reflected this.”
Molinaro claimed the defendants spiked the woman’s drink with drugs, after the group went to a bar following an evening class.
Medics said the woman, who was 22 at the time of the 2015 attack, suffered injuries consistent with rape and that there was a high level of benzodiazepines in her blood.
Luisa Rizzitelli, a spokeswoman for Rebel Network, the women’s group that organised the Ancona protest, slammed the judges’ ruling as “medieval”.
“The worst thing is the cultural message that came from three female judges who acquitted these two men because they decided that it was improbable that they would want to rape someone who looked masculine,” she told The Guardian.
“It’s shameful. But to get almost 200 people at the protest was a miracle for Italy — fortunately, it shows that sensitivity towards such topics is becoming stronger.”
News of the case — to be reheard by a court in Perugia — comes as five hotel workers accused of gang raping a British woman in Italy have claimed she wanted to have sex with them.
The men are on trial in Torre Annunziata and are charged with attacking the 50-year-old victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The court previously heard how the gang of workers were caught by police after they shared videos of the alleged rape in an online chat group.
But the court heard claims from the accused men that she voluntarily took part.
The woman’s lawyer Lucilla Longone said outside court: “These claims are ridiculous. It’s quite clear my client went through a terrible ordeal and we hope justice will be served by the court.”
— If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
This story originally appeared in The Sun and has been republished here with permission.