Sunday, December 11, 2011
The rush-to-judgment rape culture rears its ugly head in Turin: Italian gipsy camp burned down by vigilantes after false rape claim
Italian gipsy camp burned down by vigilantes after false rape claim
A vigilante mob burned down a gipsy camp after an Italian teenager allegedly claimed she had been raped by two Romany men – only to confess later that she had invented the entire story.
The 16-year-old reportedly made up the account to conceal the fact that she had lost her virginity to her Italian boyfriend, but the lie unleashed a chain of events that she could not have foreseen.
She went to the police near her home on the outskirts of Turin late last week to report that she had been raped.
Police officers conducted interviews with dozens of people in the area to try to find witnesses to the supposed attack, and the news of the assault quickly spread.
Up to 500 people staged a peaceful protest march on Saturday in the suburb of Le Vallette but a mob of around 50 peeled off from the rally and headed to a nearby gipsy camp.
As the Romany inhabitants fled, the vigilantes set fire to around 20 makeshift shelters and huts, creating a huge blaze. They threw stones and beat up at least one gipsy man.
It took fire fighters two hours to extinguish the flames, with reports that they were prevented from doing their jobs by the arsonists.
No one was hurt by the blaze. Two people were arrested and another 20 are being investigated.
The teenage girl, who has not been named, is expected to be charged with giving false evidence, along with her brother, who is alleged to have repeated her story.
She apparently invented the account because she feared the anger of her parents, who were reportedly "obsessed" with her remaining a virgin until she married and subjected her to frequent visits to a gynaecologist.
Piero Fassino, the mayor of Turin, called the attack on the camp a "lynching" that was totally unacceptable.
He said Turin was a "civilised" city and anyone fomenting hatred and violence on the basis of racial prejudice would be held to account.
Italy has a large population of Roma, some of them Italian-born and others from Eastern European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria.
As in other European countries, they often encounter hostility, particularly when begging on the streets.
There have been several similar incidents in which camps have been burned down or attacked by vigilantes in Milan, Naples and Rome.
Many Roma live in illegally-constructed shanty camps on the outskirts of big cities which are subject to frequent clearances by the Italian authorities.
Posted by Archivist at Sunday, December 11, 2011