Trials and rapes
The questions posed in the courtroom to the alleged victim of sexual violence by Ciro Grillo and his companions are very reminiscent of the tones of the defense lawyers in the famous "Rape Trial" of 1979. The formidable speech by Tina Lagostena Bassi, civil party lawyer in that procedure, explains why these methods of interrogation were - and remain - unacceptable. Let's listen to it again

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The award-winning film is worth rereading and possibly listening to again Rape trial, 1979*, you can see it again here in full version - the formidable speech by the lawyer Tina Lagostena Bassi, civil party lawyer in defense of a young woman raped by 4 men who had lured her to a villa in Nettuno under the pretext of a job offer. The trial ended with a conviction but the defendants received conditional release.

It's worth listening to that speech again because in the words of Tina Lagostena Bassi you will find all the reasons why the interrogation to which –in the ongoing trial in Tempio Pausania against Ciro Grillo and three other young people– the alleged victim was subjected to violence, he would have recorded unacceptable tones, which are very reminiscent of that process from almost 25 years ago.

“Why didn't she free herself?”
“Why didn't he scream?”
“Why didn't he use his teeth?”
“Why wasn't it lubricated?”
«Did you raise your pelvis?»
“How did her panties come off?” 
“What kind of pants were you wearing?”

The possible “guilty” passivity of the girl would be brought by the defense lawyer Antonella Cuccureddu (opening photo) as possible proof of your consent. Forgetting that in most cases of violence, even when perfectly conscious at the moment of the abuse, the woman does not react precisely by virtue of a well-known and instinctive self-preservation mechanism which is called thanatosis, reflex also studied in other animal species, whose purpose is reduce harm and hasten an end to violence. A woman knows that if he reacted at that moment his life would be at risk.

Certain the right to defense can never be denied, as well as the presumption of innocence up to the third degree of judgement. But also the exercise of this right finds limits in respecting the woman who reported, taking into account the fact that those who decide to report know well that they will have to face a difficult and painful path, with the risk of finding yourself in the dock, particularly when someone among the accused is a public figure or a family member.

To report violence requires great determination, e.g the progress of many trials risks discouraging women from defending themselves in court, pushing them to suffer abuse in silence.

It continues to operate in the background the idea that if a woman is raped in some way she wanted it, that she was unable to defend her honor and that of her family, of which she is considered the guardian, and that she should be sanctioned for this, as happens in many patriarchal societies and as happened in our country only until a few decades ago.

Marina Terragni

* the film, broadcast by Rai and seen by many millions of spectators, contributed to the approval of law no. 66 of 15 February 1996, "Regulations against sexual violence", in which rape is finally defined as a crime against the person and no longer against public morality.


HARRYING BY TINA LAGOSTENA BASSI, CIVIL LAWYER (following those - truly incredible - of the defendants' lawyers)

«President, Judges, I believe that first of all I must explain one thing: why we women are present at this trial. By women I mean first of all Fiorella, then the classmates present in the courtroom, and me, who I am here first of all as a woman and then as a lawyer. What does this presence of ours mean? Here we are we demand justice. We do not ask you for a severe, heavy, exemplary sentence, we are not interested in condemnation. We want justice to be done to us in this courtroom, and that is something different. […] I assure you, this is yet another trial that I am doing, and as usual it is the usual defense that I hear: the defendants will tell you, they will carry out that defense that we have already understood in broad terms. I hope to have the strength to feel them, I don't always have it, I confess, the strength to feel them, and not to have to be ashamed, as a woman and as a lawyer, for the robe that we all wear together. Why defense is sacred, and inviolable, It is true. But none of us lawyers—and here I speak as a lawyer—one would dream of setting up a defense for robbery as one sets up a trial for rape. None of the lawyers would say in the case of four robbers who violently enter a jewelery shop and take away the jewels, the assets to be defended, well, no lawyer would dream of starting the defence, which begins through the first suggestions given to the defendants, of say to the robbers «Okay, but say that the jeweler has an unclear past, say that the jeweler basically has stolen goods, has committed crimes of receiving stolen goods, say that the jeweler is a usurer, who speculates, who makes money, who evades taxes !»

Well, no one would dream of making a defense of this kind, only tarnishing the injured party. […] And then I ask myself, because if instead of four gold objects, the object of the crime is a real woman, why are we allowed to put the girl on trial? And this is a constant practice: the trial of the woman. The real accused is the woman. And excuse my frankness, if it's done that's how it is male solidarity, Why only if the woman is transformed into an accused, only in this way will it be possible to avoid complaints of rape being made. I don't want to talk about Fiorella, in my opinion it's humiliating to come here and say "she's not a whore". A woman has the right to be what she wants, without the need for defenders. I am not the defender of the Fiorella woman. I am the accuser of a certain way of carrying out trials for violence […]»

«What happened in here speaks for itself, ed it's the reason why thousands of women don't report it, they do not turn to justice. […] I read in the newspaper about further violence done to a 17-year-old girl, who will not tell lies because she is deaf and dumb, and who was very, very badly beaten because perhaps she made the resistance that is denied here.

I wonder, what would the reaction have been? They are four men. Of course, one can take a bite, he can risk his life, and he would have risked it. And each of the women remembers what happened to those who tried to rebel, to those who tried to rebel against violencethe»


«The facts? Look at them concretely. This is a girl, no offense, because gentlemen, I don't have a bad opinion of prostitutes at all [...] this is about a girl who has paid lovers […]

My lords, a rape with fellatio can be interrupted with a clamp. The act is incompatible with the hypothesis of violence. All four would have recklessly abandoned their member in the mouth of their victim, part that par excellence is defined as delicate of man. And on which, allow me, oral intercourse is carried out with a function that is technically qualified, and which it expresses a series of desired acts. Oh yes, I can abandon myself, but I don't abandon myself there, I own it. There possession was exercised by the girl over the males, by the female over the males. It is she who takes, it is she who is an active part, it is they passive, helpless, abandoned, in her greedy jaws!

But what does the young lady practice with the Walloon of whom she is, was, the lover, the loving friend, it was on that occasion the lover, the loving friend? It is practiced cunnilictus by her loving friend, who kneels in front of her, and kisses her tenderly on what the divine Gabriele, her illustrious fellow countryman Mr. President, calls "the second and more trepid mouth", from which her pleasure derives. So, what is the cunnilictus? It is more than love, it is sexual adoration, and it tends towards the pleasure of the female. And who practices it, the rapist? Here is the physiological, sexual incompatibility! It is the lover who can make these gestures"


«There has always been violence [...] Don't we men suffer it? Don't we also suffer it from our wives? And how do we not suffer them? I today to go out I had to bring two texts with me! The lawyer Mazzucca and the lawyer Sarandrea, witnesses that I went to lunch with them, otherwise I wouldn't leave the house. Isn't this violence? Yet my wife doesn't beat me. Is it true that you are witnesses? Are you lyrics? So, Mr President, what did we want? What did you want? Equal rights. You have begun to imitate man. You were wearing a robe, why did you want to wear trousers? Did you start by saying "We have equal rights, why do I have to stay at home at 9 in the evening, while my husband, my boyfriend, my cousin, my brother, my grandfather, my great-grandfather go out and about?" You put yourself in this situation. And then unfortunately everyone reaps the fruits they have sown. If this girl had been at home, if they had kept her by the fireplace, nothing would have happened."

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