Julie Bindel: There is no excuse for sexual assault

From The Guardian:

It has taken almost a decade of feminist campaigning to overturn one of the most ridiculous rulings on rape in Europe, so forgive me if I don’t sound too grateful. This week, judges at the Italian Court of Cassation reversed a ruling that went like this: if you wear tight jeans it is impossible to be raped, because you would need to help the man get into your knickers.

Seriously, this belief has been enshrined in case law since 1999. It is a bit like the old saying here that goes, “If you don’t want to be raped, just cross your legs.”

The ruling came about as a result of a line of defence run by a 45-year-old man accused of raping a young woman during a driving lesson. He was convicted, but on appeal put forward a defence that the victim must have consented, as her jeans were too tight for him to get into by himself. The judges agreed, and his conviction was quashed.

The same defence has been used successfully in rape cases since, but luck ran out for the latest man to try it when he was accused of sexually assaulting his partner’s daughter, aged 16, by pushing his hands down the front of her jeans. Using the 1999 case, he argued that he could not have committed the alleged acts against the will of the girl because her jeans were too tight. But the court did not accept his excuse, ruling that “jeans cannot be compared to any type of chastity belt”.

It would be comforting to think that Italian attitudes to rape are behind the times. Unfortunately, though, there are countless examples from the UK and around the world of women being blamed for rape. It’s either because of what we wear or how we behave; it’s who we sleep with, or it’s what we drink.