Italy’s coalition in row over sexual violence law

PMPs in Italy’s ruling populist coalition have clashed over a major new bill to tackle sexual crimes including rape and revenge porn on the internet.

The right-wing League proposed chemical castration for some sex offenders, with their consent, as a condition for parole. Several countries already practice chemical castration.

But the League’s coalition partners Five Star rejected the proposal.

Revenge porn is to be made a crime, but MPs disagree over the details.

Victims can suffer acute anxiety and depression when intimate photos of them are posted on the internet by ex-partners or hackers. The invasion of privacy can also harm them professionally.

The bill – known as Code Red (“Codice rosso”) – will come back to the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday. The session was suspended on Thursday when opposition MPs occupied government seats in protest, during a very heated debate.

Revenge porn was at the centre of a case that gripped Italy in 2017: Tiziana Cantone, 31, took her own life after sex videos of her went viral on the internet and she was humiliated.

A Five Star MP, Giulia Sarti, was also recently the victim of revenge porn, and Tiziana’s mother, Maria Teresa Giglio, expressed solidarity with her.

“As you are an MP, perhaps what happened can serve as input to legislate and finally intervene against this phenomenon,” Ms Giglio said.

However Ms Sarti opposed another MP’s amendment to criminalise revenge porn, which was defeated by 14 votes in the chamber.

On Facebook, Ms Sarti wrote (in Italian) that Laura Boldrini’s amendment did not go far enough. Ms Boldrini is in the left-wing Free and Equal (LeU) party.

“The topic is so sensitive that it requires wide debate not only in parliament, but also judicial and social, above all involving experts, victims, families, analysts, jurists and all the relevant state actors, like the post and telecoms police. It’s a very important issue, so serious regulation must not be incomplete,” Ms Sarti wrote.

The League’s proposal to introduce voluntary chemical castration for sex offenders was rejected by Five Star, who accused the League of playing politics with it.

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted (in Italian) that it was the right punishment for those who gang-raped an American woman in Catania, Sicily, recently. Three young men have been arrested on suspicion of raping the 19-year-old tourist. –BBC

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