Trigger warning: Attention, the following article is about sexualised violence against women and, in this context, also about a court decision.
‘Ten-Second’ Verdict: That’s why it’s a slap in the face for all women
I am tired. And angry. Whereby the tiredness currently predominates. If I could, I would isolate myself from the outside world for a while. Cell phone away, television off, newspapers aside and rigorously suppress everything that is happening around me. But that’s not possible. It wouldn’t change anything either. The world would still be just as broken a place as it was when I came back to reality. What a shit show – that’s the first thought I have in the morning when I check the news. The ultimate slap in the face for me as a woman who has been sexually harassed on a number of occasions, however, has been the “ten second” ruling that has been circulating in the media since last week. How will I recover from this? Carry on as always. In this case, I find it particularly difficult. And I know it’s not just me.
“Ten-Second” Verdict: That Happened
I’ll pick up for those who prefer to avoid the news and didn’t get what the “ten seconds” judgment was about. A Roman court has acquitted a man who allegedly “groped” a minor of sexual assault. The incident is said to have happened in 2022 at a school where the accused is a janitor. The 66-year-old is said to have approached the student on the stairs and grabbed her pants from behind. Although the man admitted in court that he touched the 17-year-old “for fun”, the lawsuit was dropped. The reason: The touch only lasted between five and ten seconds, which means that the criminal offense of sexual harassment is not fulfilled. The man has been working at the school since then.
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To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what to write about this verdict. It seems like a joke to me. I keep waiting for someone to yell “hidden camera” and for the story to dissolve into a sickening joke. It doesn’t matter how long a touch lasts. If it occurs without consent, it is sexual assault. Everything should be said with this. That should be clear to every reasonably logical and minimally empathetic person. But that is apparently not the case here. The accused even takes it to the extreme and mocks the young woman by speaking of “fun”. And the Roman court? That laughs with me.
“Ten-Second” Judgment: Bitter Reality for Women
I’ll explain how funny it is to be touched by a man for less than ten seconds without being asked. A few years ago, after graduating from university, I worked in a small company. One evening we went for a drink with the whole team. The manager sat next to me at the table. Not only was he my boss and 40 years older than me, he was also the father of a friend. None of this seemed to bother him, however, as he placed his hand on my knee and slowly pushed it up my leg until he reached the hem of my skirt. His touch felt burning hot. I was petrified, unable to move, let alone say anything. That would have been superfluous, everyone had noticed. But no one came to help me. Finally, I got up under the pretense of having to go to the bathroom. A short time later I handed in my resignation. I felt so much shame and disgust. Much worse than that was just the worry that my girlfriend might find out about it.
This incident lasted only a few moments. But it had far-reaching consequences for me. After that, I never got in touch with my girlfriend again. I couldn’t tell her what happened, at the same time I couldn’t not tell her. That’s why I disappeared from her life. Many shrug off such incidents and trivialize them. Nothing worse happened. Nobody was injured. Is correct. But that cannot be the yardstick. Even if it was “just” that one touch, I felt like I was losing control. In such situations one feels powerless and vulnerable. A few seconds will teach you that there are men who believe they have the right to touch you without permission. without any consequences for them. For the victims of sexual harassment, however, it has it very well.
How long an attack lasts says nothing about what it triggers in the person concerned. You may not be physically injured, but such an incident changes something. The way you look at the world changes, especially when you have to watch the perpetrators just carry on as before. This decision is a social indictment that tramples on women’s rights and hits those affected worldwide. At the same time, it’s a free pass for criminals, because from now on everything under ten seconds is fun. I’ve spoken to many women who have experienced similar incidents about the ten-second sentence. The reactions were all somewhere between anger and resignation. My mother was frustrated that she felt that nothing would ever change for women. But that’s not true. Something has changed: more and more women are going public and fighting for justice, even if it rarely happens to them. This fact helps me to keep going. No matter how tired I am.
Have you or someone you know been a victim of (sexualized) violence? On help info you will find information about the specific procedure for filing a report and important advice centers.