CREDITS: 3 US credits / 45 contact hours
OFFERED: July Sessions: 3, B
This course examines the relationship between gender inequality and the legal system. Topics include abortion, marriage, divorce, custody, equal pay, sexual harassment, rape, pornography, and prostitution. Students are introduced to basic legal research tools, such as statutes, regulations, cases, and legal literature. Bride kidnapping, also known as marriage by abduction or marriage by capture, is a practice known throughout history and around the world through which a man abducts the woman he wishes to marry.
Specific case studies will be covered such as the “fuitina” in Italy, which was a widespread practice in Sicily and the south. In theory and in some cases, it was an agreed elopement between two youngsters, in practice it was often a forcible kidnapping and rape followed by a so-called “rehabilitating marriage” (matrimonio riparatore). In 1965, this custom was brought to national attention by the case of 17-year-old Franca Viola, abducted and raped by a local small-time criminal, with the assistance of a dozen of his friends. When she was returned to her family after a week, she refused to marry her abductor, contrary to local expectations. Her family courageously supported her decision, and suffered severe intimidation for their efforts. Ultimately, the kidnappers were arrested and the main perpetrator was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The exposure of this archaic and intransigent system of values and behavioural mores caused great national debate. A 1970 film, “La moglie più bella” (The Most Beautiful Wife) by Damiano Damiani and starring Ornella Muti, is based on the case. Article 544 of the Italian Penal Code was amended only in 1981, when by law, rape could not be cancelled by marriage.
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