Female MPs protest blocked ‘revenge porn’ amendment

Female MPs staged a protest after an amendment on revenge porn was voted down. Photo credit: Il Fatto Quotidiano

ROME - Female MPs occupied the Italian Chamber of Deputies Thursday in protest against the defeat of an amendment aimed at tackling ‘revenge porn’ on Thursday.

 MPs had convened to discuss a bill on gender rights and violence, named Code Red (Codice Rosso), which aims to give increased protection to women.

 However, an amendment put forward by Laura Boldrini of the Liberi e Uguali party to include in the bill the persecution of revenge porn perpetrators was defeated by 14 votes after the League and 5 Star Movement voted against it.

 Revenge porn, the sharing of revealing or explicit images or videos of a person without their consent, has been a major debating point amongst Italian parliamentarians in recent months and certain female MPs have even been recent victims of the crime.

 The decision not to pass the amendment was met by protests from opposition parties that saw day’s parliamentary session postponed.

 Stefania Prestigiacomo of Forza Italia condemned the decision, stating: “Today we are writing an awful page into our parliamentary history… we are, in the name of selfishness and an incomprehensible obstinance, renouncing the possibility of following acts voted by this very courtroom because I remember that in November we approved a motion signed by Carfagna that called for a majority and governmental intervention on subjects like this. Right now, we are disregarding a commitment made unanimously by this House.”

 Giulia Sarti of the 5 Star Movement however backed her party’s decision. In a Facebook post released shortly after the event, she said that it was “an extremely important issue” that could “not be resolved by the approval of a mere amendment.”

 5 Star Movement leader Luigi di Maio, currently in the USA, was quick to weigh in on the matter and reassure opposition voices that his party would push forward for a separate law on the matter which could see those prosecuted face a prison sentence of anywhere between six months and ten years depending on the circumstances. 

 Prime minister Giuseppe Conte also endorsed legislation on the matter, taking to Facebook to indicate that Italy’s parliament will next week be called to session to vote on the matter. He also assured his followers that a majority would vote in favour of greater regulation.

 “We need to be united in this battle of civility… against uncivil individuals.,” he went on to write.

 The Red code bill will also be discussed further next week after progress was halted by the protest. Amongst other measures already put forward for the bill is the highly contentious chemical castration of rapists supported by Salvini’s League.