Italian mayoral candidate wants women to wear satellite trackers in case they’re raped

// 5 May 2008

panic buttonAs the results of the London mayoral election sink in, Rome is still in the throes of election fever, and one candidate to run the city is proposing to outfit women with satellite tracking devices. In the event they are raped, women could set off these bracelets, and in swoops the Carabinieri to arrest the perpetrator.

As you might imagine, this measure is a bit controversial, not least because the aspiring mayor in question – Francesco Rutelli – imagines that the ‘bracelets’ would be a bit like the kind clapped onto ankles across this country via ASBOs.

Broadsheet points out that this proposal is basically an admission that the state is entirely unable to protect women:

Why not just outfit all Italian ladies — and, perhaps, children — with mace and a firearm, and do away with law enforcement altogether?

But I think Feministing most accurately pinpoints the problem with this proposal: “Once again, putting the onus on women to protect themselves from rape takes the rapist – remember him? – out of the equation. Not okay.”

Isabella Clough-Marinaro, sociologist from the American University of Rome, is reported by AKI as saying:

Women should be free to move around safely in the city, rather than having to wear some kind of panic button which provides no guarantee that the police would intervene promptly enough.

Is it too much to ask that politicians think about rape prevention in terms of how to stop men raping, rather than ever more elaborate and onerous ways – up to and including wearing weapons inside our vaginas – to reinforce to women that we must be on constant alert against rapists, and constricting how we live our lives?

Photo by Myki Roventine, shared under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Leigh // Posted 6 May 2008 at 3:05 pm

The whole attitude of using technological interventions like this bugs the hell out of me. Should I walk around with a spiked club in case I get mugged? Brass knuckles. Should I pay a helicopter full of bodyguards to rappel to my aid should someone threaten me?

Sadly a lot of men I have known would say ‘yes’. they do walk around with concealed knives or telescopic batons ‘just in case’. The patriarchal ideal is of man as is strong, implicitly capable of violence. Therefore the patriarchal response to the threat of violence is to counter threaten with superior violence. It becomes harder and harder for men to imagine why women should not have to take precautions when they are prepared to ‘take care of themselves’ (tellingly in pub slang this is taken to mean ‘be able to do well in a fight’) in the same way.

Sarah // Posted 7 May 2008 at 9:52 am

It irritates me too, for the same reasons, and also because – why is it just for women, and why just in case of rape? If this was really about making people safer, it would be applicable to everyone regardless of gender, and would be framed as a precaution against any kind of violent street crime, not just rape.

Instead it seems like the point is to reinforce the idea in women’s minds that they shouldn’t really be independent and out alone, and threaten them with rape if they are. Not to mention reinforcing the idea that rape is generally something done to women in a random stranger attack on a dark street. While that certainly does happen and it’s a terrible thing, it’s overwhelmingly more likely to happen in your own home, or the home of a boyfriend or friend you trusted. Which is not a problem you can solve with a ‘gadget’ like this.

Anne Onne // Posted 7 May 2008 at 11:15 am

It’s sick and useless.It won’t stop rapes happening, and will only frame the crime in people’s eyes as something the victim should do all to avoid. If it’s introduced, you’ll get people saying it wasn’t really rape, because if she didn’t want to be raped whe should have worn her rape bracelet, and thatshe didn’t do enough to prevent it!

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