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Italy. He grabbed the 17-year-old’s buttock but said it was a joke. Court: There was no harassment

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A 17-year-old student at a Roman high school has accused a caretaker of molestation who touched her buttocks as she climbed the stairs. The girl’s account was confirmed by her friend and the accused himself, but the court found that his behavior “was not lustful” and “lasted between 5 and 10 seconds”. The verdict caused a wave of indignation, and Internet users started the campaign “Short harassment” and “10 seconds”.

Two teenage students of a Roman high school were climbing the stairs after a break. Suddenly, one of them felt someone grab her buttock. She turned around and saw the 66-year-old caretaker. The man put his hand in her panties. The girl ran away and later filed a police report. After a trial that lasted several months, a court in Rome ruled that the touching lasted no more than 10 seconds, so there was no harassment.

“It was a clumsy, undesirable, random act lasting 5 to 10 seconds and therefore does not constitute a crime. The defense’s explanations that we are dealing with a joke are convincing,” the court’s reasoning reads.

The court was in no doubt that the event had actually taken place. The testimonies of the victim, her friend and the caretaker himself are basically consistent, and the man admitted that he grabbed the girl’s buttock without her consent. The girl interpreted this behavior as assault and sexual harassment, and the prosecutor’s office demanded three and a half years in prison for the caretaker. Although there was undisputed unwanted touching, the court did not side with the victim, but with the attacker.

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Read also: Almost one in ten students report having experienced or seen sexual harassment

Internet protests

The verdict outraged the students, who immediately organized a picket in front of their school. – There have been many similar incidents in this school. This is not the first time a student has been treated this way. Many of us have experienced it. For a girl, those 10 seconds can be the worst hell on earth. I don’t understand how they can justify it – says one of the protesting high school students.

When the court’s decision became loud, ordinary Italians, actors and celebrities took action on social media – they began to show and explain how long 10 seconds lasts and that in the case of sexual harassment it is an eternity.

See also: Italians ask: do you know how long is 10 seconds?

Harassment cannot be underestimated. Not only women, but also men take part in the protest action under the slogans “Short harassment” and “10 seconds”.

There were more similar shocking cases in Italy. Seven years ago, a court in Sicily acquitted a man accused of sexually harassing female colleagues, because it considered that the attacker was simply emotionally immature. In 2017, a court in Turin acquitted a man who raped a patient in a hospital because the victim did not scream or ask for help. In the same year, the Court of Appeal in Ancona cleared the charges against two rapists. In the justification, the judge explained that the rape could not have happened because the victim was not physically attractive.

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Main photo source: Reuters

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