This is the story of a rape. One of the very many, in Italy.
I'd like to say, "oh, this is different!" But, I'm not sure.
All began (this story, as all other similar, has a beginning; and then, it evolves for months, years, an entire lifespan; most of the story occurs in silence, and suffering no one may really heal)...
All began on a damned day between end March and April 2007, in Montalto di Castro, where 8 guys raped a 15 year old girl. A child. What's unusual, after all? Episodes like this "happen". It is so easy to find them on newspapers, often attributed to sans papier foreigners (it's so reassuring to imagine rapes as something made by the "other", the Unknown - while statistics confirm most violences occur by spouses, friends, parents, and people of the same entourage of the victims).
This episode too has been honored by the print. For one month the girl has struggled on herself with the horrible remind, and the threat if she said something. In the end, she found the will to tell, and as a result the eight perpetrators have been arrested and convicted in their homes. You may find the short description (in Italian) at the URL http://www.corriere.it/Primo_Piano/Cronache/2007/05_Maggio/22/montalto_v...
Justice has been made. All right. And even some mention to the fact these eight guys were "good family boys". Quite unusual, in these years in Italy.
But the story has not finished. On the contrary: it's just on its beginning.
Some time passed. On 18 October 2009 we find another article: http://www.corriere.it/cronache/09_ottobre_18/Processo-sospeso-agli-8-vi...
Here interesting things emerge. The major has paid the legal expenses for the eight perpetrators. Officially not to pay lawyers, but to help them re-enter society. (The sum was pretty enormous, 20000 €).
The trial has been suspended for 24 months, to give the eight time to reflect, declare their repentance, and apologize with the victim. If they will do "sincerely enough", on 27 March 2012, as they will appear in court on the next time, the offense will be extinct.
Is this a fair pay, for having forever ruined life to a child?
I try imagining what might be, waiting years before meeting again these people in court. Day after day, hour after hour, having to live again and again the episode. And confident that, on that date, all people will say more or less overtly that "it was your fault".
I try, but I can't. Something in me blocks. I can't imagine how this reality is.
As I understood, the girl is not native of Montalto. But would she has been "one of them" I'm not sure she would had received some demonstration of support, or at least of affection.
Support? A sign of friendliness? Some empathy? On the contrary. All the community is against her. You may find details in another article: http://roma.corriere.it/roma/notizie/cronaca/09_ottobre_21/viaggio_monta...
Of course... Abusing sexually someone is almost normal, isn't it? The eight said "Oh, it was just a boyish prank!" Many people in Montalto maintain the girl is a half-criminal, who has enticed the eight poor boys, then seducing them.
You realize? The animal instincts of the eight are just a consequence of nature! If they can't control them, what can they do? Sure, the fault is all your if you act in a provocative way (translation: if you just exist, and they consider you a possible toy, a mere mean to satisfy their lust).
Being male and becoming a man is a difficult task. I imagine a huge effort to discipline, to evolve, to develop values. I wonder how may this happen, in a society where remaining an animal is not only welcome, but even cherished.
Machismo is widely diffused in Italy. It seems to me a face of a wider and deeper problem, an insecurity eliciting a form of protective solidarity. Many are disgusted by it, yet conform to the standard as it is not easy to show a criticism and take a stand. And, I see a lot of fear, fear of the "unknown" (not so unknown, after all: many "machos" flaunt they don't know women and seem feeling secretly an almost invincible fear of dependence on them; what's more true, they could understand, if they want, but first of all they should know themselves, their own insecurities, their lust too - and get them all under some control.
This is not a justification, nor an attempt to "understand". From my standpoint, I may just shoot some more or less intelligent guesses (sorry, my limit). Some other person, more authoritative or with a deeper knowledge, may try.
I just say: that's all injust, and deeply disgusting. We can't accept.
We can't accept the way no one tries to change culture.
We can't accept the very idea of someone "using" someone else as an object, for any reason. Would be up to me, I'd ban even words like "human resources" from common language, as they convey the root (and rotten) idea that people are commodities.
We should do all what possible to ensure that anyone who fails, then pays. That's the only education possible, for growing people (men, in this specific case, but this should apply to women too) able to assume responsibilities and act as members of a society.
And last, let's take the liberty, and responsibility, to blame the blamers.
A major cultural shift is necessary.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence 2009.