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Rome mayor calls for stronger laws to tackle rape after 'black month' for sexual assaults

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Rome mayor calls for stronger laws to tackle rape after 'black month' for sexual assaults
Rome mayor Virginia Raggi looks on during a press conference. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
15:20 CEST+02:00
Rome's mayor Virginia Raggi on Tuesday called for tougher laws against rape, after a spate of reported sexual assaults in the capital and across Italy.

"What is happening to women is monstrous; it's a black September for Italy," said Raggi, commenting on the recent reports of violent rapes. 

"We need to act now - the government must intervene, even through [the introduction of] special laws," said the mayor.

Her words came just hours after news that a doctor in Catania, Sicily was raped while at work in an emergency medical unit. Police arrested the attacker, who entered the centre at around 11pm by pretending to be ill, according to Rai News.

The doctor's ordeal lasted more than two hours after the attacker reportedly damaged the telephone and emergency alarm system, and has prompted an outcry from workers in the health sector.

Italy's health minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, said that she was "shocked by the umpteenth act of violence on a female doctor in her place of work" and said the violence was "unacceptable".

Lorenzin also said she was "very concerned" about the level of security in hospitals, and called a meeting of ministers to discuss possible solutions to the problem.

In June, a doctor in Abruzzo was stabbed to death outside the hospital where she worked, with police saying her killer was likely a man who had previously been reported for stalking the woman.

According to the most recent figures from national statistics agency Istat, 652,000 women in Italy have been victims of rape, with the majority (63 percent) of such crimes carried out by partners or ex-partners. More than one in five Italian women aged between 16 and 70 had suffered sexual violence, the same figures showed.

Recent weeks have seen several particularly brutal rape cases, including the rape of a German woman in one of Rome's most famous parks on Sunday night.

Earlier in September, four people were arrested over two gang rapes in the seaside town of Rimini, and the following week two police officers were placed under investigation for the alleged rape of two US students. In each of these cases, 

Hundreds of women demonstrated in Florence over the weekend to show solidarity with the American students, following Italian media coverage which organizers said reflected "a sexist rape culture [...] that constantly insinuates that the victims ‘were asking for it’".

 

 

Raggi said last week that Rome's council was working on improving security through installing extra CCTV cameras, better lighting, and improving nighttime transport links. Women in Rome, and in many of Italy's other large cities, can already get a discount on taxi journeys if travelling alone late at night.

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