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CRIME

Italian court fined for ‘perpetuating sexist stereoypes’ in rape case ruling

Europe's top rights court on Thursday criticised an Italian court for "playing down gender-based violence" after its ruling on a gang rape case referred to the alleged victim's sexuality, behaviour, and the colour of her underwear.

Italian court fined for 'perpetuating sexist stereoypes' in rape case ruling
The inscription "Justice" written in Latin is pictured on the facade of an Italian courthouse. Photo: Miguel MEDINA/AFP

The woman had accused seven men of attacking her in a car after a party in 2008 when she was a student. She said she was drunk at the time.

An appeals court in Florence in 2015 overturned the convictions of six of the men, citing inconsistencies in the woman’s account of the alleged attack.

The European Court of Human Rights did not challenge that verdict but considered whether the wording of the judgement violated the woman’s right to privacy, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

READ ALSO: Anger in Italy as men cleared of rape because victim was ‘too masculine’

Concluding that her right to privacy had been violated, the ECHR said the “language and arguments” used by the Italian court “conveyed prejudices existing in Italian society regarding the role of women”.

“In particular, the Court considered the references to the red underwear ‘shown’ by the applicant in the course of the evening to be unjustified, as were the comments regarding her bisexuality, relationships and casual sexual relations prior to the events in question.”

The Strasbourg court also took issue with the Florence court’s referral to the woman’s “ambivalent attitude towards sex” and the questions it raised around the woman’s role in a film made by one of her alleged attackers before the alleged rape.

READ ALSO: Almost half of Italian women report suffering sexual harassment

The ECHR said it was crucial that courts “avoided reproducing sexist stereotypes” or “playing down gender-based violence and exposing women to secondary victimisation by making guilt-inducing and judgmental comments”.

It ordered the Italian state to pay the woman 12,000 euros ($14,600) in compensation.

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FOOD & DRINK

Italian cafe owner fined €1,000 for ‘overpriced’ €2 espresso

Baristas have spoken out against ‘outdated’ rules after one café owner in Florence got a €1,000 fine over his coffee pricing.

Italian cafe owner fined €1,000 for 'overpriced' €2 espresso

Award-winning barista and trainer Francesco Sanapo, owner of the Ditta Artiginale cafe in Florence, was reportedly hit with the steep fine after a patron reported him to the local police.

The customer filed a complaint because they were upset at unexpectedly having to fork out €2 for a decaffeinated espresso, reported local news site Firenze Today.

Single-shot espressos typically cost €1 or less in Italy. Ditta Artigianale said its coffee comes from a small plantation in Mexico and that decaffeinated coffee requires complex extraction techniques that are expensive, hence the two-euro charge.

The fine however wasn’t due to the espresso’s high price, but because of a rule that requires cafés in Italy to display their prices behind the counter or in a menu.

Because Ditta Artiginale only publishes some of its prices in physical form, listing others in only an online menu accessed via a QR code, police reportedly said the owner failed to comply with Italian law.

Sanapo asked his followers for help in fighting the fine, calling the law “outdated” in a video uploaded to Facebook on Saturday, 

“They fined me because they paid two euros for my espresso. This can’t go through, it can’t happen. Help me!!!” the message accompanying the video reads.

“I’m not one to use social media to complain, but this time they have touched a nerve with something that is too important to me and to the entire hospitality industry and particularly the coffee/café world.”

In a subsequent video published on Monday, Sanapo said he didn’t take issue so much with the fine in itself, which he said he would pay, but with Italy’s fixation on having access to cheap coffee at the expense of good quality.

READ ALSO: Where, when and how to drink coffee like an Italian

“Think about it: with one euro you cannot pay a sustainable wage to those who produce coffee, you can’t pay for the professionalism of those who are trained to a high level in hospitality. With one euro we generate poverty throughout the supply chain, we create illegal jobs or workers who are underpaid even when all goes well. A one euro cup of coffee means using poor quality products,” he told the Repubblica news daily.

Sanapo’s peers in the Italian coffee industry have expressed solidarity with his situation.

“We stand in solidarity with our colleagues at Ditta Artigianale. This is 2022 but in Italy you still can’t talk about quality when it comes to coffee, in this sector quality is not appreciated: this is very serious,” Serena Nobili from Dini Caffe reportedly said.

“To disregard the quality of a product where there is a lot of work behind it is something that I am deeply saddened by. Quality is paid for and it is to everyone’s benefit,” echoed Alessandro Vittorio Sorani, president of the small business association Confartigianato Imprese, according to Firenze Today.

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