After a woman was gang-raped so severely that she suffered genital tearing, her alleged attackers were sentenced for their crimes. However, once an appeals court saw the woman’s face, they immediately overturned their convictions and freed the men.
In a case that shocked the nation, a 22-year-old woman was allegedly raped in Ancona, Italy, by a pair of Peruvian immigrants, who brutalized the woman so severely that she suffered serious damage to her genitals. The victim required stitches to repair the trauma, adding to the horrific nature of the crime. It was this heinous detail which helped to ensure that the pair was convicted.
However, thanks to an appeals process, the men managed to bring a convincing case to a panel of judges. Disturbingly, one of the deciding factors that resulted in their convictions being overturned was their traumatized victim’s face.
According to The Guardian, the Peruvian men convinced an all-female panel of judges in an appeals court to overturn their rape convictions because the victim was too ugly and “masculine” to be a credible victim. The verdict was made after the female judges reviewed a photograph of the woman, agreeing that she was too unattractive to be the target of rape.
The ruling, which has caused international outrage, also concludes that the suspects found the woman to be unattractive because they listed her phone number as “Viking” in their cell phones, The New York Times reports.
“It was disgusting to read; the judges expressed various reasons for deciding to acquit them, but one was because the [defendants] said they didn’t even like her, because she was ugly. They also wrote that a photograph [of the woman] reflected this,” Cinzia Molinaro, the woman’s lawyer, told the Guardian.
The initial ruling confirmed that the woman was a victim of rape by the men and listed her vaginal injuries as evidence of sexual violence. However, the Court of Cassation announced that the guilty verdicts would be overturned and the convicts absolved since the victim was found to not be entirely credible.
Of course, the absolution of the alleged rapists wasn’t the only action to negatively impact the woman. According to Molinaro, the woman, who is also from Peru, was forced to return to her home country after being shunned by the migrant community in Ancona for reporting the pair.
Rebel Network spokeswoman Luisa Rizzitelli told The Guardian that the judges’ ruling is an example of “medieval” rationale that sends a dangerous message to future rape victims.
“The worst thing is the cultural message that came from three female judges who acquitted these two men because they decided that it was improbable that they would want to rape someone who looked masculine,” said Rizzitelli.
The woman was reportedly raped after the men spiked her drink with drugs. Court documents state that they had gone out to a bar as a group after completing a night class. Despite medical professionals confirming that the woman’s injuries were evidence of sexual assault and that her blood contained a high level of sedatives, the appeals court ruled against the woman’s character.
Unsurprisingly, the appeals court ruling has sparked protests with hundreds of outraged citizens showed up in front of the courthouse to demand a retrial. Incredibly, their demonstrations were effective, as the case will officially be reheard by a court in Perugia.
“It’s shameful. But to get almost 200 people at the protest was a miracle for Italy – fortunately, it shows that sensitivity towards such topics is becoming stronger,” Rizzitelli said.
The woman still has a chance of receiving justice thanks to the protesters’ success in demanding a retrial. However, there is still no telling how the court will rule, as the aforementioned all-female panel of judges proved that there is not always justice in the courtroom.