Women in film denounce Italy's sexual assault 'silence'

ROME – A group of 124 actresses, directors and other women in the film industry have chastised Italians for their failure to support victims of sexual assault, arguing that the “wave of indignation is dying down” and that before long “molesters will be reinserted into the system.”

 In a joint letter, published Friday in La Repubblica, supporting those “actresses that have had the courage to speak in Italy,” the signees call for Italians “to break our country’s silence on molestation.”

 They label the abuse “part of an arrangement under the eyes of all, that provides for the absolute male majority in places of power, inequality of pay and the constant and permanent sexualisation of places of work.”

 The letter, entitled “Common Dissent,” is the latest in a series of international interventions by women in the film industry that spawned the “#MeToo” movement in America and “#Balancetonporc” (“call out your pig”) in France.

 In France, the movement has received significant push back from parts of the industry, most notably the joint letter headed by Catherine Deneuve, which stated that “a clumsy attempt at seduction is not a crime.”

 But the Italian authors make clear that talk of “healthy games of seduction” or “commercial, artistic or professional merits” of abusers, should not be tolerated. “In so doing,” they write, “this machine of repression would like to silence us and make us thinking twice before opening our mouths.”

 Italy’s reaction to the worldwide movement has been muted at best. In Dec 2017, Laura Boldrini, President of the Chamber, “in Italy, [the allegations] certainly haven’t had the same effect.”

 At present, there are several accusations involving Italian professors in the university system in Bologna and Rome, but fears remain that the majority of attacks in Italy go unreported.

 According to the Agency for Fundamental in the European Union only 10 percent of women go to the police to report sexual violence from a partner, a figure which rises to only 13 per cent when the attacker is unknown.