Italian Senate approves anti-rape law

The Italian Senate on Wednesday approved a law that introduces tough penalties for rape and makes stalking a crime. A total of 262 senators from the ruling conservative coalition and from opposition parties backed the law, while one senator voted against it and three senators from the libertarian Radical party abstained.

The new law makes murder committed after sexual violence, sexual assault and lewd sexual acts against minors, gang rape and stalking all punishable with life in jail.

Stalking is categorised as a ‘persecutory act’ under the law. It imposes a jailterm of between six and 36 months when the stalking occurred repeatedly and caused the victim anxiety or to fear for their personal safety, or forced them to change their usual habits.

If the stalker’s victim is a child, a pregnant women or is disabled, the penalty is a jailterm of one to six years.

The law also imposes mandatory prison sentences for the crime of reducing individuals to slavery, abducting individuals, prostituting minors, child pornography and paedophile tourism.

Individuals convicted of sexual crimes will also find it harder to get work outside prison or prison leave and be sentenced to community service as an alternative to a jailterm.

Local authorities are also authorised by the law to introduce video-surveillance of public places.

The law gained the backing of senators from the anti-immigrant Northern League party after the government pledged to include several controversial security measures in a separate security bill currently being debated in the lower house of parliament.

These measures include local security patrols in Italian towns and cities by ‘concerned citizens’ and the detention of illegal immigrants in identification centres for up to six months.

Another controversial measure seeks to make illegal immigration a crime, and to oblige doctors and other national health service staff to report to police illegal immigrants who seek medical treatment.

The bill has already been approved by the Senate but ran into difficulty in the lower house of parliament after over 100 MPs from the ruling conservative People of Freedom party opposed the move to oblige health service workers to report illegal immigrants. They claimed it breached basic human rights.


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