An Italian judge is under fire for throwing out a sexual assault case because the woman involved didn’t scream during the attack.
Italy’s justice minister has called for an investigation into whether a man was wrongfully acquitted of sexually assaulting a colleague simply because she didn’t call out for help, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Instead, her demands, “Stop it” and “Enough” were deemed too weak by the (male) judge to justify the charge.
The woman, who has not been identified, told authorities that in 2011 the man threatened to withhold work from her if she didn’t have sex with him, before assaulting her. In turn, she told him to stop, but "with people who are too strong, I just freeze," she said, according to the BBC.
Carolyn Worth of Victoria’s South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault, says that such a reaction isn’t unusual. “People have a number of responses to impending threat and that, of course, includes sexual assault. Depending on how you react the summary of the choices is fight, flight or freeze… Often if you are really scared for whatever reason you will find yourself unable to do anything.”
On top of the acquittal of her alleged rapist, the survivor now has to face slander charges.
The decision has caused a maelstrom in the country. Italian lawmaker Annagrazia Calabria said the judge's decision was "incomprehensible and far removed from justice."
"There are judicial sentences that leave one speechless," Calabria said in a Facebook post.
"The suffering of those who live through a terrifying and despicable act is not measurable by screams. And certainly, you cannot punish the personal reaction of a woman who is terrified by what is happening to her."