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Commentary. After two American women accused Italian police of rape, a made-for-tabloids firestorm ensued. A war is being fought over women’s bodies.

If a rape is committed by men in uniform

On one side, the institution par excellence, the police. And on the other side, two American girls, between the fumes of alcohol and cannabis. The undertones are very clear and was quite evident in Friday’s reports: Can we believe these two girls? Couldn’t the accusation of rape be a fabrication?

The media scandal machine did not start immediately, since they are not “our women to defend.” A note from the U.S. Department of State changes the record: “We take these accusations very seriously. Our overseas offices are always ready to assist U.S. citizens who are victims of crime.” The attitude has changed.

The two 21-year-old women are in shock. Their versions of the facts, in separate and repeated interrogations, are consistent.

The carabinieri police car that took them home, on via Tornabuoni in downtown Florence, was parked for 20 minutes in front of the building, as confirmed by the closed circuit cameras. The two policemen are being investigated for sexual violence, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti says there is some foundation in these accusations. The DNA analysis results are expected. The girls are staying now in a shelter house, following the “Pink Code” procedure, which was activated immediately at the time of their complaint on the morning of Sept. 7.

The severity of the accusation speaks for itself. Two policemen on active duty may have committed a serious abuse of power. If you cannot trust those who should protect you, there is no way out. That is why we must repeat firmly: A rape is rape is a rape. Irrespective of affective relationships, family ties, ethnicity, colors or uniforms. It is the violence of men against women.

If the accusation is confirmed, how can two police officers, 45 and 28 years old, respectively, abuse two girls and think they can get away with it? Maybe because they believed the girls were so drunk that they would not be lucid enough to remember and denounce them? Or did they hope the uniform would protect them?

These are tense days. Just think of all the noise and fabrications around the group rape in Rimini. A war is being fought over the bodies of raped women. A war that ignores them and does not listen to them. In the relationship between men and women, an asymmetry is obstinately ignored. Men are raping women. We all need to speak out, men first.

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