A recent ruling by an Italian judge has sparked outrage among young people in Italy. The judge cleared a school caretaker of groping a teenager because the assault did not last long enough.
A 17-year-old student at a high school in Rome reported that a school employee had groped her. The caretaker admitted to groping the student without consent but said it was a joke. A Rome public prosecutor asked for a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence, but this week the caretaker was acquitted of sexual assault charges. According to the judges, what happened “does not constitute a crime” because it lasted less than 10 seconds.
Since the ruling, palpate breve—a brief groping—has become a trend on Instagram and TikTok in Italy, along with the #10secondi hashtag. Italians have posted videos of themselves looking at the camera in silence and touching their intimate parts for 10 seconds straight. The videos are often uncomfortable to watch, but they have the aim of showing just how long 10 seconds can feel.
Many young people in Italy are expressing outrage on social media over the ruling. They argue that the duration of the harassment should not diminish its severity and that men do not have the right to touch women’s bodies, not even for a second, let alone 5 or 10.
This case has brought attention to the issue of sexual harassment in Italian society and sparked a conversation about consent and accountability.