Rape, Marriage, and Legalized Crime in Italy

Florence University of the Arts - The American University of Florence

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Rape, Marriage, and Legalized Crime in Italy

  • Host University

    Florence University of the Arts - The American University of Florence

  • Location

    Florence, Italy

  • Area of Study

    Criminology, Justice Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Bride kidnapping, also known as marriage by abduction or marriage by capture, is a practice throughout history and around the world in which a man abducts the woman he wishes to marry. The custom of fuitina was widespread in Sicily and southern Italy. In theory and in some cases it was an agreed elopement between two youngsters; in practice it was often a forcible kidnapping and rape, followed by a so-called "rehabilitating marriage" (matrimonio riparatore). In 1965 this custom was brought to national attention by the case of Franca Viola, a 17- year-old abducted and raped by a local small-time criminal, with the assistance of a dozen of his friends. When she was returned to her family after a week, she refused to marry her abductor, contrary to local expectation. Her family courageously backed her up, and suffered severe intimidation for their efforts; the kidnappers were arrested and the main perpetrator was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The exposure of this archaic and intransigent system of values and behavioral mores caused great national debate. A 1970 film, "La moglie più bella" (The Most Beautiful Wife) by Damiano Damiani and starring Ornella Muti, is based on the case. Article 544 of the Italian Penal Code will be changed only in 1981, when, by Law, rape could not be cancelled by marriage. This course examines the relationship between gender inequality and the legal system. Topics include abortion, marriage, divorce, custody, equal pay, sexual harassment, rape, pornography, and prostitution. Students are introduced to basic legal research tools, such as statutes, regulations, cases, and legal literature.

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Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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