Italy: Judge Rules ‘Less than 10 Seconds Groping’ Not Sexual Assault

Italy reacts with fury after court rules assault by 66-year-old on 17-year-old 'was not a sign of sexual desire.' Since the ruling, Italians have posted videos looking at the camera in silence and touching their intimate parts for 10 seconds straight

Priya Prakash
Jul 13, 2023 13:28 IST
Italy 10 second groping rule

Since the ruling, Italians have posted videos looking at the camera in silence and touching their intimate parts for 10 seconds straight | Image Credits: (R) durantilaura and (L) freeda

The judge's decision to clear a school caretaker of groping a teenager has stoked widespread fury among young people in Italy on social media. The decision has sparked outrage. 

The incident involves a 17-year-old student from a high school in Rome. While walking up the stairs with a friend, she felt her pants falling down and someone touching her underwear and grabbing her buttocks. When she confronted the man, he dismissively said, "Love, you know I was joking." 

The student reported the caretaker, a 66-year-old named Antonio Avola, to the police after the incident occurred in April 2022. Avola admitted to groping the student without her consent but claimed it was just a joke.

Italy Judge Clears School Caretaker Of Teen Groping Incident


Despite a public prosecutor's request for a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence, the accused caretaker was ultimately cleared by the judge. The judge justified the decision by claiming that the incident involving the girl did not meet the criteria to be classified as a crime as it lasted less than 10 seconds. According to media reports, the judges described the caretaker's actions as a brief and "awkward manoeuvre" without any signs of lust.

Speaking to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, the teenager involved in the case emphatically stated that the incident was 'no joke' to her. She described how the man groped her buttocks and then forcefully pulled her, causing pain in her private parts. "To me, this is not a joke. This is not how an older man should 'joke' with a teenager," she expressed firmly.

The girl expressed a deep sense of betrayal, feeling let down both by her school and the justice system, leaving her with a feeling of being doubly betrayed.


Netizens Uproar Over Judge's 10-Second Groping Rule

Following the controversial ruling, a trending phenomenon known as "palpata breve" or "brief groping" has taken hold on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok in Italy. According to the BBC, the hashtag '#10secondi' has accompanied these posts. Individuals, including White Lotus actor Paolo Camilli, have been sharing ten-second videos of themselves touching their intimate parts. The act of posting such videos gained momentum as thousands of people joined in, sharing similar content.


Numerous prominent social media influencers have joined the movement by sharing their own videos. Francesco Cicconetti, an influencer, expressed his thoughts on TikTok, questioning the notion that 10 seconds can be deemed insignificant. 


He pondered the validity of measuring time during instances of harassment, asking, "Who decides that 10 seconds is not a long time? Who times the seconds, while you’re being harassed?”


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#crimes against women #10-second ruling #Italy #Sexual harassment