Italy struggles as new law opens sex abuse floodgates
ROME, Aug 30, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Italian prosecutors warned Friday that a
new law designed to fast-track cases of domestic and sexual abuse was
overwhelming the system with record numbers of victim reports.
The law, which came into force on August 9 and has been dubbed Italy’s
“Code Red”, requires prosecutors to gather information from alleged victims
and decide how to proceed within three days of receiving police reports.
Since then there has been a spike in reports: some 30-40 incidents daily
have been flagged in Milan, an average of 30 a day in Naples and 25 in Rome
since the law took effect, the Repubblica daily said.
“It’s not a case of a rise in crimes, but a rise in the number of reports
by people who — encouraged by the new law — are going to the police,” said
Genoa prosecutor Francesco Cozzi.
Prosecutor sources in Milan described being “inundated by a flood of
reports of alleged abuse, violence or persecution, day in and day out”, the
Messaggero daily said.
Supporters say the new legislation has positive elements: it makes
“revenge porn” and “deformation of looks” (causing permanent scarring) a
crime and allows judges to clap electronic bracelets on those slapped with
But in large cities on-duty prosecutors have found themselves interviewing
20 complainants in an arc of 24 hours.
“I share the wish to speed up the intervention of judicial authorities,
and make it more efficient,” Maria Monteleone, the magistrate in charge of
Rome’s anti-violence pool, told the Repubblica.
“But the three-day deadline within which prosecutors have to hear
testimony from all complainants is unreasonable,” she said, adding that it
did not leave enough time to properly examine individual cases.
“If everything becomes urgent, then nothing is urgent any more,” she
The law means cases of groping have to be treated with the same urgency as
a child abused at home, the daily said.
Lella Palladino from the Dire network, which manages 115 anti-violence
centres and 55 refuges, said it was positive that victims were being heard so
quickly, but that the law should have included obligatory training for
“Many women are still being killed because police — but also prosecutors
and judges that hear the cases — downplay the risks,” she said. “Or worse
still, they find alibis for the aggressors, such as madness and jealously.”