Saturday, 15 July 2023 04:28

Why is the shocking '10 second grope' rule going viral on Italian social media?

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Italian social media users are expressing outrage after judges said groping had to last 10 seconds to be considered sexual assault.

How long does a grope have to last before it is considered sexual assault?

More than 10 seconds, according to an Italian courtroom.

Italian judges have acquitted a 66-year-old cleaner accused of groping a 17-year-old student because “it lasted less than 10 seconds” and that the assault “was not a sign of sexual desire.”

Even writing those words makes you want to bathe in bleach.

The incident happened at a high school in Rome in April 2022. The schoolgirl was walking up a flight of stairs between classes when the janitor, named Antonio Avola, put his hand inside the waistband of her trousers and inside her underwear. When confronted, he responded: “Come on love, you know I’m only joking,” according to other students who witnessed the incident.

The caretaker was charged with sexual assault. He admitted to groping the student without her consent but claimed it was just a joke.

Despite the public prosecutor’s request for a nearly four-year prison sentence and a sexual assault conviction, the judge ruled in favour of Avola, ruling that his groping had “only lasted between five and 10 seconds” and that his hand had not “lingered” down her underwear for very long.

The viral #10secondi

The shocking case has sparked outrage over the casual sexism still rampant in Italy, and in response to this shameful decision, the phrase “palpata breve” (“a brief grope”) and a "10 second" hashtag (#10secondi) have gone viral on TikTok and Instagram in protest of the court’s ruling.

One of the first to use the hashtag was The White Lotus actor Paolo Camilli, who posted a video online showing himself rubbing his chest alongside a 10 second countdown. As of writing, Camilli’s video has over 300,000 views and amassed over 83,000 likes. 

Several rather unsettling videos followed suit, showing people touching their bodies (or having another person touching them) while a stopwatch counts down time, showing how unnervingly long 10 seconds can be. The comments in the videos saw social media users expressing their disdain for the ruling. 

In some cases, the aggressor in the videos removes their hand at the 9 second mark, explaining it doesn’t count if it’s under 10 seconds.

Instagram user durantilaura posted such a video and wrote: "Now... I am not a judge and I am well aware that judgments are to be respected. But I really don't understand the rationale. Why is the intention assessed and not the gesture? Why is the duration even assessed to determine whether it is violence or not? Isn't it more important whether the person who suffered the gesture consented to it? Whether or not she felt violated?"

Speaking to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, the teenager involved in the case stated that the incident was no joke, as her aggressor stated: “A joke is something shared between two people. This is not the way that a janitor should joke around with a young girl of 17. I’m very angry.”

“This is not justice,” she added. “I feel betrayed – first by the school, where it happened, and now by the court. (…) I'm starting to think I was wrong to trust the institutions.”

 

Euronews

 

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