Berlusconi does it again

24 02 2009

Around a month ago, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made statements strongly suggesting that women are raped because they are just so good looking and men can’t resist them. He falsely implies that rape isn’t about power or a sense of entitlement and ownership over another, it’s about sex. And her perpetuates another dangerous myth about rape – that it is a compliment because you know, sometimes men just can’t control themselves when a beautiful woman walks by. 

Now, Berlusconi’s gone even further by essentially blaming sexual violence on immigrants and enforce stricter police state measures:

Italy’s government has rushed through a decree to crack down on sexual violence and illegal immigration after a spate of rapes blamed on foreigners.

The decree sets a mandatory life sentence for the rape of minors or attacks where the victim is killed.

It also establishes rules for citizen street patrols to be conducted by unarmed and unpaid volunteers.

Critics of this act include the Vatican who has warned that these measures can “turn innocent foreigners into convenient scapegoats.” These xenophobic measures will also legitimate vigilantism, xenophobia and violence against immigrants.

Also, blaming immigrants for sexual violence falsely perpetuates the myth of the stranger rape and obscures the fact that most people are raped by someone they know. This also paints an incredibly narrow picture of the perpetrator as an immigrant, which is not only false, but xenophobic and racist as well.

It’s disgraceful when people in power are so ignorant and misguided. And it really breaks my heart that there are so many myths about rape floating around: like rape is only perpetrated by strangers, or that survivors lie about rape, or that rape is a compliment to how irresistible you are. Feminists have been fighting this uphill battle to demystify rape and make it easier for survivors to come forward and for perpetrators to get prosecuted for years now, but people like Berlusconi just remind you that we’ve still got quite a long way to go.



One response

28 02 2009

Wow. I can’t believe that someone who has achieved such a position of power would believe such ridiculous and harmful stereotypes about women and rape-and act on and perpetuate these beliefs, as well. If a supposedly educated and intelligent person believes these myths, then imagine how ingrained they must be in the world as a whole. Truly horrifying.

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