Sputnik: Do you think it's acceptable that one's lack of attractiveness could undermine their credibility as a rape victim?
Giulia Ausani: No, it's not acceptable, because one's physical appearance and attractiveness (or lack thereof) does not increase or decrease their chances of being raped. I mean, you can be Victoria's Secret model or a wrinkled, 80-year-old woman and still be raped.
It's 2019, and I think it's time that institutions, politicians and normal people realise that rape has nothing to do with sexual pleasure: rape is an act of domination, of humiliation, of overpowering someone else.
So, no, sexual desire is not a necessary component of rape. Lust and sexual pleasure, sexual desire, have nothing to do with it. And people should just start realising that.
Sputnik: What is the Italian public opinion's response to the overturning of the rape verdict?
It's just insane. This verdict is just humiliating. It's wrong. The woman's lawyers said that it's not the only reason why the three judges decided to acquit the men of all charges. But it's still something that they took into consideration.
And not only that: in the documentation, they even added a photograph of the woman to prove her unattractiveness. They decided that the fact that one of the men had saved her number under the name of "the Viking" was more important than the fact that this woman had such genital trauma that she required stitches. This is just unbelievable.
Sputnik: Only last week three eighteen-year-old men raped a girl inside a lift of the Circumvesuviana station near Naples. The parents of the culprits have reportedly applauded and shouted slogans to encourage their children. So considering also this instance, do Italians have an issue with handling rape cases and responding to them accordingly?
Giulia Ausani: The case that you mentioned is very emblematic. It reflects not just the institutional problem with rape cases, but it just reflects rape culture in Italy. I mean, if the families of three alleged young rapists just decide to encourage them, to applaud them after they exit the police station where they have been interrogated, well, this really shows a big problem.
In Italy, there is still the conviction that, if a woman dresses in a certain way, then she's asking for it. It's not always the case — I'm not saying that everybody in Italy reacts like that —, but there are still too many people who blame the victim.
And this needs to change, because this is still linked to sexist beliefs. Italy's legal system is still deeply problematic. We have had several cases where judges recognised extenuating circumstances, because the rape victim was not a virgin anymore, or because she was wearing some specific underwear, or because she was sexually active. All these verdicts show a big problem in Italy's legal system and, in general, in Italian culture nowadays.
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