Rape, Marriage, and Legalized Crime in Italy
Florence University of the Arts and Apicius International School of Hospitality
Area of Study
Criminology, Justice Studies
Taught In English
Course Level Recommendations
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Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4
Hours & Credits
OverviewBride 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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