What’s an Italian politician to do after two highly publicized rapes sparked public outrage: Campaign for safer streets and tougher penalties for rapists? Nah, that’s old hat if you ask Rome mayoral candidate Francesco Rutelli. He’s responded to the uproar over the recent rapes by suggesting that women be outfitted with satellite tracking devices with a medical-alert-like button — only instead of “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up“ it essentially announces to authorities, “Help, I’m being raped!” What’s more, Rutelli imagines the device as an ankle bracelet — you know, just like the ones some sex offenders wear.
Why not just outfit all Italian ladies — and, perhaps, children — with mace and a firearm, and do away with law enforcement altogether? But, seriously, is an anti-rape bracelet honestly the best authorities can do to protect women from rape? The concept certainly hasn’t been without criticism: Fellow politicians have called the idea “humiliating,” “offensive” and “ridiculous.” Giovanni Alemanno, another mayoral contender, put it best: “This is a case of do-it-yourself safety in which citizens are supposed to compensate for the failings of the state and the city.”
At the same time, though, women’s rights activist Manuela Moroli made a valid point: “The bracelets wouldn’t be obligatory and if they make women feel safer and more protected, then all the better.” Sure, it’s a fine option, but only amid a proactive campaign against rape.