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Italy overturns ruling that women wearing tight jeans 'cannot be raped'

The Court of Cassation provoked international outrage in 1999 when it quashed the conviction of a previously convicted rapist, saying it would be impossible to forcibly remove a woman's tight jeans if she resisted.

It agreed with the then-defendant, a 45-year-old driving instructor from Potenza, that it would have been impossible for him to have taken off an 18-year-old client's jeans "without the collaboration of the person wearing them" and that she must therefore have consented to sex.

However, in a separate appeal by a 37-year-old man convicted of sexually assaulting his partner's 16-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, the court has now ruled that "jeans cannot be compared to any type of chastity belt".
The court ruled that: "The fact that the girl was wearing jeans was not an obstacle" for the man, from Padua, who has been identified only by the initials RP under the strict Italian privacy laws, to have "inserted his hands inside the front of her jeans".

The man had in his defence cited the 1999 case, and claimed that it would have been impossible for him to have attacked the girl because she had at the time been seated and wearing jeans. He said that she would have had to unbutton them and therefore consented to his advances.

After the decision in 1999, female politicians, including Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of the Italian fascist dictator, wore jeans to parliament in protest. Ms Mussolini said she was pleased with the new ruling, but regretted that "it has taken until 2008 for the Court of Cassation to acknowledge an obvious fact - that women's clothing has nothing to do with the violence to which they are forced to submit on a daily basis".
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