Italy’s highest appeals court issued a ruling last week that defies all logic and common sense. The ruling stated that it is impossible for anyone to rape a woman who is wearing tight jeans because a rapist cannot remove his victim’s pants without her help. The court also questioned a woman’s veracity because she waited several hours to report the rape to police. The ruling drips with absurdity and is reminiscent of the sexist thinking of an earlier time.
The Court of Cassation overturned a 1998 rape conviction, ruling that it would have been impossible for the defendant, a 45-year-old driving instructor, to remove his 18-year-old victim’s tight jeans “without the cooperation of the person wearing them.” Furthermore, the court reasoned, getting the jeans off the victim would not have been possible if the victim were struggling. And if the victim was really raped, the court continued, why did she not report it to police immediately?
The ruling is a shameful miscarriage of justice. By shifting the blame to the victim and questioning why she waited to notify police of the crime, the court could prevent future rape victims from choosing to endure the emotional trauma of going public and prosecuting their attackers. The ruling also makes one wonder if the new “jeans alibi” will become a common defense in future rape cases. Whatever the result, the ruling is a step backward in an age of social progress.