CW: This article contains mentions of sexual violence.
On Monday, August 22, Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni tweeted a video of a Ukrainian woman being raped in an Italian city and used it to talk about her electoral campaign. Now she’s facing backlash for exploiting the story of a woman who has suffered violence for electoral purposes.
Giorgia Meloni is the leader of the far-right party Fratelli d’Italia, one of the strongest opponents of DDL Zan, the law that would have protected LGBTQ+ people, women and people with disabilities from discrimination and violence that was tanked in the Senate last year.
After current Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi stepped down from the position, Meloni’s party is now given as the winner by all national polls at the upcoming September elections. Should her party win these elections, she could become Italy’s first female Prime Minister.
Meloni has been widely criticised for her anti-feminist and anti-LGBTQ+ positions throughout the current as well as the previous electoral campaigns. Now she is under fire again for posting footage of a woman being raped. Because the assailant was an asylum seeker, Meloni used the video to reiterate her promises to stop the flow of immigrants coming to Italy from North Africa, which is one of the main points of her electoral campaign.
Questa è la vera Meloni.
Tutto il resto è solo un gigantesco photoshop.#diBENITO_inPEGGIO#23agosto
— Milko Sichinolfi 🇮🇹🇺🇦🇪🇺 #facciamorete (@MilkoSichinolfi) August 23, 2022
Many on social media pointed out how problematic it is to exploit a person’s trauma to further one’s own political interests and how broadcasting such a video was an additional violence perpetrated on the survivor of the rape, who did not consent to such images being shared on the internet.
Italian writer Igiaba Scego commented on Meloni’s action, saying that she was subjecting the survivor to “clickbait voyeurism” and that her whole campaign is “a horror”. “We are at the abyss. To gain a few more votes, a video depicting sexual assault was posted. How did we get so low?” she wrote.
“It is indecent to use images of rape. Even more indecent to do so for electoral purposes,” tweeted Enrico Letta, head of the centre-left Democratic Party.
Now the video has been removed by Twitter because it was in violation of their policy. However, the damage has already been done as the survivor of the attack announced that she has been recognised because of the video and shared being very upset about it.
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