Italy’s top court rules physical appearance ‘irrelevant’ in rape cases

Italy's top court rules physical appearance 'irrelevant' in rape cases
Rome's Supreme Court of Cassation. Photo: Depositphotos
Italy's highest court has thrown out a ruling that a woman couldn't be a victim of rape because judges deemed her "too masculine" and "unattractive".

The physical appearance of an alleged rape victim is “wholly irrelevant” and is a “non-decisive” element in assessing her case, Italian judges at Rome's supreme Court of Cassation stated on Tuesday after overturning the acquittals of two men accused of rape.

A lower court in Ancona had acquitted the pair in 2017 with a panel of three female judges saying the victim looked “too masculine” to be raped.

There were protests outside the court last month after the judges' comments came to light in a justice ministry probe into the sentencing..

Protestors outside the court on Monday. Photo: Rebel Network

The men had initially been convicted in 2016 of raping the woman, then aged 22, in 2015, but the Ancona appeals court later threw out the charges.

The woman had claimed one of the men raped her while the other stood guard after they had spiked her drink with drugs.

Doctors said her injuries were consistent with rape, and found traces of a date rape drug in her blood.

But the judges ruled it was “not possible to exclude the possibility” that it was the alleged victim who “organised the 'exhuberent' evening,” according to the reports.

The judges stated in their report that said the woman's story was not believable as she was “too masculine” and that the men didn't find her attractive.

They said the man accused of the rape “didn't even like the girl, to the point of having stored her number in his phone under the nickname 'Viking', an allusion to an anything but feminine figure, rather a masculine one”.

“The photograph present in her file would appear to confirm this,” they added.

After the judges' reasoning was revealed last month, their sentence was annulled by the Court of Cassation.

It ordered a new appeals trial, quashing the acquittal of the two men.


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