Italy passes harsher rape penalties

April 22, 2009 at 5:38 PM
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ROME, April 22 (UPI) -- An "anti-rape" emergency decree increasing penalties against sexual offenders was passed into law by the Italian Senate Wednesday, observers said.

The measure mandates life sentences for offenders who murder their victims after a rape, increases sentences for those who rape a minor and for those who are involved in gang rapes, and introduces stalking as a crime, the Italian ANSA news agency reported.

The vote puts into law a decree that was first issued in February by the Italian Cabinet after a string of high-profile rape cases that mostly involved foreigners, and which stoked crime fears and anti-immigrant feelings, the news agency said.

"Italy is now among the most advanced nations in terms of the fight against sexual violence," said Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna. "From today, Italian women can feel safer. The season of zero tolerance against those who commit crimes against them has begun."

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