Italy has been shaken by the alleged gang rape of a 13-year-old girl in front of her boyfriend in a public park in the Sicilian city of Catania, the latest in a string of shocking sexual attacks in the country.
The case is reminiscent of two alleged gang rapes last summer. A group of seven men and teenage boys between the ages of 15 and 18 are currently on trial for the alleged rape of a 19-year-old girl in Palermo in August. Weeks later nine young men were arrested and charged with allegedly raping two cousins aged 10 and 12 near Naples and broadcasting the attack live on social media. They, too, are facing trial.
Last month’s alleged gang rape in Catania has become not only a symbol of violence against women in the country, but a cause célèbre for Italy’s far-right government. The seven suspected perpetrators were all Egyptian migrants, three of them under the age of 18, Catania police confirmed to CNN. Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, came to power in September 2022 on an anti-immigration platform, but her efforts to curb irregular migration into the country have so far been unsuccessful.
The men accused in the latest Sicilian case entered Italy by boat in 2021 and 2022 as unaccompanied minors, according to Catania police. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, one of the country’s most visible far-right figures, said on X that they should not have been allowed to stay. Meanwhile, during a visit to Catania, Meloni expressed her solidarity with the alleged rape victim and her family. “The state will be there, and the state will guarantee that justice will be done,” she said.
R&I – TP