Italian Ruling on Jeans Being Obstacle to Rape Is Criticized

<i> From Reuters</i>

Italian politicians and lawyers reacted angrily Thursday against an appeals court verdict that said a woman could not have been raped because she was wearing jeans.

Italy’s highest appeals court Wednesday overturned the rape conviction of a 45-year-old driving instructor, saying there was not enough evidence that he raped his 18-year-old student.

In its ruling, the court said: “It is common knowledge . . . that jeans cannot even be partly removed without the effective help of the person wearing them . . . and it is impossible if the victim is struggling with all her might.”


Six women members of Parliament demonstrated in front of the lower house building Thursday, wearing jeans and holding signs that read “Jeans: the alibi for rape.”

“This sentence is unacceptable. . . . It is a dangerous signal for all women in Italy, and we will wear jeans until it is overturned,” said Alessandra Mussolini, a deputy for the far-right National Alliance party.

The man, who had denied rape charges, had been handed a 2-year, 10-month sentence at his trial. His lawyers insisted that the woman had consented to have sex with him and that there had been no evidence of violence.

Other protests came from judges, lawyers and other politicians.

“The court’s sentence contrasts with the principles of civil justice and is a worrying signal. It is a backward-looking ruling that strikes at . . . the civil conscience of women and of the whole country,” said Walter Veltroni, head of the Democratic Party of the Left, the largest in Italy’s center-left government.

Simonetta Sotgiu, a judge, said that the ruling set justice back 30 years. She referred to a 1960s case in Sardinia in which a judge ruled that a rape victim, who had been wearing jeans, had agreed to sex because “as is known, jeans are not easily removed.”

“Jeans again like 30 years ago! Even then it was crazy, and now the court is going back 30 years,” she said.