Free Rape Day

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Technically they are called rumour, uncontrolled rumours spreading like wildfire. The question is not so much: where did the rumour originate, but rather: why did it find so much credence? The rumour which we discuss here (the 24 April National Rape DayFree Rape Day), is a hybrid of rumor and urban legendbecause it brings together in a narrative, the institution of the free turnips, a kind of violent carnival, all the various misogynistic moods circulating at this moment in history really hard on women. The fact that many young girls believed this and locked themselves in the house is a precise and alarming signal.

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"Mum, do you know that today is rape day?". Many of us have been asked this question by their teenage daughters, frequent users of the social network TikTok where they communicate to the sound of videos and dancing. The (fake) news has been swirling around: basically 24 April would be National Rape Day, a day when harassment or rape became legal.

How it came about fake news is doubtfulSome speak of a video in which six men encourage other men to rape, even giving instructions on the best ways to do it, others say that the hoax was born in Turkey after the protests about leaving the Istanbul Convention. A men's counter-movement reportedly launched the idea of establishing a national sexual assault day, evidently a dream in the drawer of some men. 

Whatever the origin the hoax went viral, especially in Great Britain and the United States. Millions and millions of people have spread videos of indignation, or warned girls not to cross the doorstep with the hashtag #april24. In Italy, too, the alarm has spread: 'What are you doing on 24 April, going out alone?"asked young girls and boys on TikTok. And many, frightened, did not come out.

The news, in short, although not true, was taken seriously by many and very young people. This prompts us to reflect on a social network, known more than anything else for ballets and recipes and much frequented by the very young, which can become the vehicle of a violent and misogynistic message to general indifference.

Elena Bandiera


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