Far-Right Italian Leader Tweets Video of Woman Being Raped Ahead of Election

Giorgia Meloni has been called "immoral" and her campaign "horrendous" after she shared the video in an apparent bid to capitalize on fear of immigrants.

Far-Right Italian Leader Tweets Video of Woman Being Raped Ahead of Election
Giorgia Meloni in Italy in June. Photo:Getty Images

Giorgia Meloni, a far-right leader in Italy campaigning to be the country’s next leader, opposes abortion rights, has spoken out against same-sex marriage, and recently recorded a statement, in three languages, trying to convince the world that she is not a threat to democracy. And now, she’s exploited a rape victim for votes.

Meloni, who could become the country’s first female prime minister, tweeted out a video on Monday of a Ukrainian woman being raped by an asylum seeker from Guinea. “One cannot remain silent in the face of this atrocious episode of sexual violence against a Ukrainian woman carried out in daytime in Piacenza by an asylum seeker,” Meloni, a member of the Brothers of Italy party, which reportedly has roots in neo-fascism, posted with the video. “A hug to this woman. I will do everything I can to restore security to our cities.”

The video, which was filmed in the city of Piacenza on Sunday morning by a person in an overhead apartment, was originally posted on a newspaper’s website—with the image blurred, but the 55-year-old woman’s screams audible.

The backlash was, obviously, immediate. Igiaba Scego, a prominent Italian writer of Somali heritage, wrote that Meloni’s tweet was “clickbait voyeurism” and that her campaign is “horrendous.” Carlo Calenda, another Italian politician, called the tweet “immoral” and said, “Reporting a rape is one thing. Using the video for election purposes is simply unworthy.” And Enrico Letta, who served as the country’s prime minister from April 2013 to February 2014, tweeted, “Respect for people and victims always comes first.”

Meloni, however, has doubled down. She wrote on Facebook that her rivals were attacking her instead of focusing on the “immigration emergency”—she recently said that the navy should set up a block of North Africa to prevent migrants from entering Italy. But I can only imagine the “emergency” is as fear-mongering and fake as anything that former president Donald Trump ever said about migrants to the U.S. Following the backlash, she also tweeted that “The delusional mystifications of the left against me continue.” This all sounds painfully familiar…

Italy’s general elections take place on September 25, and unfortunately, Meloni is currently favored to win.

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