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Minerva Medicolegale 2001 December;121(4): 243-58

language: Italian

Definition of sexual crimes in Italy and other european countries

Palmiere C., Canale M.


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Legal matters on sexual crimes have been the subject of significant changes with the recent introduction in the Italian criminal code of the law 15th February 1996, no. 66. Among these changes, two are of paramount importance. Firstly, the new position within the criminal code as crimes against people instead of crimes against public morality. Secondly, the creation of a new type of offence designated as ''sexual violence'' which replaces the two originally separated crimes of rape and indecent assault. The main point of this new type of offence is the meaning of ''sexual act''. As the legal expression ''sexual act'' is a rather broad definition without any further explanation about its meaning, during the last few years the jurisprudence has attempted to explain the limits and the extension of the expression ''sexual act'', identifying a series of behaviours which represent this new type of offence because they damage the personal liberty protected by the new law. After having explained the legislative development in the matter of sexual crimes and the most recent judgments regarding ''sexual act'' in Italy, the legislative situation in France, UK, Spain and Switzerland is illustrated. In these countries the law discriminates between those offences included in the definition of rape and other sexual unlawful behaviours.

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