INTRODUCTION: In Rome, Italy, three youths were sentenced to jail on Friday (15 April) for their part in the gang rape of 17 year-old Claudia Caputi.
INTRODUCTION: In Rome, Italy, three youths were sentenced to jail on Friday (15 April) for their part in the gang rape of 17 year-old Claudia Caputi. As a result of bringing her case to trial in open court and maintaining her integrity as a witness Signorina Caputi has become the heroine of the recently-developed feminist movement in Italy.
SYNOPSIS: Women all over the country have adopted her case as a rallying point for their cause. Earlier this month over a thousand turned out to demonstrate outside the court where the seven youths accused of attacking her, were on trial. They were angry over a suggestion by public prosecutor Paulino dell Anno that Signorina Caputi might have faked a second gang rape and razor attack against her.
The eventual sentences were a triumph for the liberationists -- who are fighting for rape case to be treated more seriously by the police and courts. Hitherto many rapists have escaped prosecution altogether.
But now the vociferous feminists are fighting to bring about some fundamental changes. Claudia Caputi went to the movement for help when her family refused it. Her case attracted the attention of the news media outside Italy -- and eventually on the home front. But it was only one of many new feminist activities that have sprung up during recent months. Tired of attempting to bring about reforms by working through established political parties or pressure groups, Italian women have taken to the streets -- and set up their own organisation. Birth control and abortion advisory centres have been established.
And a campaign is underway to gather over 50,000 signatures for a popular petition requesting more jobs for women. The parallels with the black civil rights movement in the United States are many. Italian women feel they are second-class citizens, they are no longer prepared to function within traditional boundaries and they are determined to achieve their goals without outside help. So far, however, they have avoided violent tactics, arguing that violence is a "male weapon".
Instead they rely on a well-tuned feeling for the power of propaganda. This is Radio Donna -- the women's radio station -- in action.
Male Italian society has been caught off balance by the sudden emergence of the feminists as a force to be reckoned with. Established politicians are having to come to terms with a new phenomenon -- women who are no longer prepared to exist only as wives and mother, and who are now demanding the same rights and opportunities as men. An evolution which started in northern Europe and the United States several years ago has reached the Mediterranean.