Seventeen-year-old Sicilian Franca Viola was abducted and raped in 1965, with the intention of forcing her into marriage. She came to prominence in 1966 as the first Sicilian woman to refuse a so-called reparatory marriage – which would have legally absolved her rapist of his crime – resulting in his prosecution in a high profile trial in December 1966. Through an examination of the media coverage, and by making use of history of the emotions, this article examines the trial as a crucial moment for post-war Italy, when gender, sexuality and marriage were being redefined in a rapidly changing society. Different emotional styles could be connected to debates about national identity and regional character, as well as to broader anxieties about ‘modernity’ and ‘backwardness’.
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