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Spate of rapes spark calls for patrols, punishment in Italy

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 19, 2017

By Nicole Winfield Associated Press

ROME – Italian officials called Tuesday for increased police patrols, video surveillance and tougher laws to punish perpetrators after a spate of rapes renewed attention on violence against women in Italy.

In the latest case to emerge Tuesday, a doctor working alone on a night shift in a tiny Catania clinic was reportedly assaulted for hours by a patient. A day earlier, a German woman reported being raped, robbed and bound overnight in the Villa Borghese, a park in Rome.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi called for increased police patrols and video surveillance, declaring it had been “a black September for Italy.” Raggi, of the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement, also called for “special laws” but didn’t elaborate.

The anti-immigrant Northern League seized on the attacks to call for the chemical castration of rapists.

This week’s rapes followed a case in Florence where two American students said two Carabinieri paramilitary police officers raped them after offering them a ride home from a disco in their patrol car. The officers have been suspended pending the investigation.

And in August, a Polish tourist was gang raped and her partner beaten during an attack in the beach resort of Rimini, allegedly by the same group of men who assaulted a Peruvian woman just a short time later. Four people have been arrested.

Italian politicians and activists have long denounced a culture of violence against women in Italy that frequently erupts in domestic assaults – sometimes fatal – by jealous husbands and boyfriends. In the recent rapes, the perpetrators were not believed to have been well known to the victims.

In the case of the Catania doctor, the town mayor said the suspect was known to law enforcement.

Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin ordered all overnight health clinics to check their security provisions, after the doctor was apparently unable to call for help after her attacker disabled her phone line and emergency alarm.

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