Italian Court Ruling That a Woman Was 'Ugly' and 'Too Masculine' to be Raped Sparks Outrage

After a 2017 ruling was unsealed, revealing that two men were cleared of rape charges due to the woman's undesirable appearance, nearly 200 protestors showed up to the Ancona courthouse

Photo: Giusy Marinelli/Ropi via ZUMA

A massive crowd of protestors showed up to an Italian courthouse this week in response to a ruling that cleared two men of rape charges due to the alleged victim’s undesirable appearance.

Though the case occurred two years ago, the shocking ruling was brought to light on Monday after Italy’s highest appeal court ordered the decision be overturned and the case retried, The Guardian reports. Close to 200 people gathered in the town of Ancona to protest the original decision.

“It’s shameful, but to get almost 200 people at the protest was a miracle for Italy,” Cinzia Molinaro, the woman’s lawyer, told the outlet. “Fortunately, it shows that sensitivity towards such topics is becoming stronger.”

In 2015, two men were accused of raping a 22-year-old Peruvian woman, whose name has not been publicly released, the outlet said. They appeared in court for the first time in 2016 until the decision to acquit them was made by a group of all-female judges in 2017.

The three Ancona court judges claimed that the alleged victim’s story was not “credible” enough since she looked “too masculine” to be raped, according to the Italian wire service Ansa General News.

Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome.

Their arguments were reportedly based on a photograph on the woman, as well as the two men allegedly stating that they were not attracted to her. One of the defendants even allegedly had the woman’s name in his phone under “Viking,” The Guardian said.

Speaking to the outlet, Molinaro said she was sickened by their decision, which is why she referred it to the Supreme Court of Cassation.

“It was disgusting to read; the judges expressed various reasons for deciding to acquit them, but one was because the [defendants] said they didn’t even like her because she was ugly. They also wrote that a photograph [of the woman] reflected this,” she told The Guardian.

According to Molinaro, her client’s drink was spiked with drugs during a group encounter at a bar after an evening class. She also explained that doctors believed her injuries were “consistent with rape” and found a high level of benzodiazepines in her blood.

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Benzodiazepines are prescribed depressant medications, often used to treat anxiety and depression, the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) reports. Because of their sedative properties, they can be potentially abused, especially if combined with alcohol.

CESAR also reported that a particular benzodiazepine called flunitrazepam, which goes by the trade name Rohypnol, is often referred to as “the date-rape drug” because of its use in sexual assaults.

It is not clear, however, what specific benzodiazepine was found in her bloodstream.

The woman eventually left Ancona and moved back to Peru because of how badly she was ostracized for reporting the men, Molinaro said.

Her case will be reheard by a court in Perugia, according to The Guardian. At this time, it is not clear whether the woman will be in attendance.

Molinaro did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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