[ “Lo stupro” ]


by Franca Rame

translated by Ed Emery



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Please be aware that this translation can only be performed with explicit permission in writing from the agency representing Dario Fo and Franca Rame, the Danese-Tolnay agency in Rome.



Original text copyright © Franca Rame

Translation copyright  © Ed Emery







by Franca Rame

translated by Ed Emery





[This is usually omitted or adapted by English-language performers.]


Because of the stupid attitudes that we find in Italy today, we're still in the position where a woman's best chance of making people believe that she's suffered sexual violence, is if she's "lucky" enough to appear before the relevant authorities bruised, beaten and covered in blood. If she turns up DEAD, so much the better!


A corpse with the marks of rape and physical violence is regarded as fairly acceptable proof!


In the past week there have been seven cases of sexual violence before the courts.


Women students attacked on their way to school or college; a woman patient attacked in a hospital; separated wives physically overpowered by their husbands, confident of their marital rights within the law.


You will certainly be aware that the proposed new law against sexual violence has been completely mutilated in Parliament by the amendment proposed by the Christian Democrat Member of Parliament Casini. His amendment alters the definition in Clause One from "crime against the person" to "crime against the sexual liberty and dignity of the person". Once again, the familiar hotch-potch of a non-specific, generalised sexual crime.


But the most obscene aspect is the terroristic ritual to which a woman is subjected by policemen, doctors, judges and prosecuting lawyers, when she has been raped, and when she presents herself to the authorities under the delusion of demanding justice, and with the illusion of expecting to get it. It's one whole filthy, sniggering ritual of mockery.


DOCTOR: "Tell me, Miss – I'm sorry, are you married? – during the incident, did you only feel disgust, or did you also feel a certain pleasure.... an unconscious satisfaction....?"


POLICEMAN: "Didn't you feel flattered that so many men, four in all, I believe, felt such a powerful desire for you, felt such a HARD passion?"


JUDGE: "Did you remain passive throughout, or did you, at a certain point, participate?"


DOCTOR: "Did you feel yourself involved? Sexually aroused?"


PROSECUTING LAWYER: "Did you feel yourself becoming moist?"


JUDGE: "Did you not think that your groans, which were undoubtedly due to your suffering, could have been misinterpreted as expressions of pleasure?"


POLICEMAN: "Did you experience sexual gratification?"


DOCTOR: "Did you experience orgasm?"


LAWYER: "If so, how many times?"


The piece which I am going to perform now comes from a personal account which was printed in Quotidiano Donna [Women's Daily]. We have put the account into a theatrical form, while completely respecting its content. We dedicate this piece to our Member of Parliament, Mr Casini.






A radio's playing. I don't notice it at first.


It takes a while to sink in – someone's singing....


Yes, a radio. Pop music: love, moon, June, stars above.... love....


I've got someone's knee, just one knee, planted in my back, as if the person behind me is kneeling on the floor.


He's holding my hands with his, twisting them tightly back.


My left hand, especially.


I don't know why, I find myself thinking that maybe he's left-handed.


I've completely lost my grip on what's happening to me.


I'm so terrified that I feel I'm about to lose my mind, my voice.... I can't speak.


Only incredibly slowly do I realise what's going on....


Oh God, my head is spinning!


How did I end up in this van? Did they push me, did I climb in myself? Or did they lift me up, and throw me in?


I don't know.


I can't think for the racing of my heart, pounding against my ribs, and the pain in my left hand, which is becoming unbearable.


Why are they twisting my arm so hard?


I make no attempt to move.


I'm frozen rigid.


Now the one behind me hasn't got his knee in my back any more.He's got himself into a better position.... He's sitting down, and he's got me held from behind.... between his legs.... like they used to do when they took children's tonsils out.


That's the image that comes to mind.


Why are they holding me so tightly?


I don't move, I don't scream.... my voice is gone.


I've completely lost my grip on what's happening to me.


The radio's playing. Not particularly loud.


Why music? Why have they turned it down, now?


Maybe it's because I'm not screaming.


In addition to the one holding me, there's another three.


I look at them: there's not much light.... not a lot of space either.... Maybe that's why they've got me half sitting up.


They seem calm. Very sure of themselves. What are they doing? They're lighting a cigarette.


What's going on? Smoking? At a time like this? Why are they holding me like this and smoking?


Something's about to happen. I sense it.... I take a deep breath.... and another.... and another.


It does nothing. I can't get my mind clear.... I've no understanding. Only fear.


Now one of them comes towards me. Another sits on my right, and the third on the left. I see the red glow of their cigarettes.


They're breathing heavily. Theyre horribly close.


Something's about to happen. I sense it.


The one who's holding me from behind tenses all his muscles.... I can feel them, wherehe's holding me. He hasn't tightened his grip, only tensed his muscles, as if getting ready to hold me tighter.


The first one who moved towards me gets down between my legs.... kneeling.... he forces my legs apart.


It's a precise movement, and the one behind me seems to expect it, because he immediately hooks his legs over mine, to keep them apart.


I've got trousers on. Why are they spreading my legs with my trousers on? I feel worse than if I was naked!


My mind's taken off this feeling by something which at first I don't know what it is.... a burning sensation, slight at first, then sharper, and finally unbearable, on my left breast.


A burning, piercing pain.


Cigarettes.... against my sweater, burning through onto my skin.


I find myself wondering what you're supposed to do in a situation like this. I'm incapable of doing anything, not even crying, or saying anything.


I feel as if I'm outside of myself, standing at a window, being forced to watch something horrible.


The one on my right lights the cigarettes, takes two draws and then passes them to the one between my legs. One after another. The smell of burning wool must be irritating them: they've got a razor. They cut through my sweater, lengthways, down the front.... they cut my bra too.... the blade leaves a razor gash across my chest. An eight-inch gash, according to the medical report.


The one between my legs, the one who's kneeling, grabs my breasts with both hands. I feel the cold of him against my burns....


Now they undo the zip on my trousers, and they pull at my clothes. Only one shoe. Only one trouser leg. Only.


The one holding me from behind is getting excited. I can feel him rubbing up against me.


Now the one between my legs pushes himself into me.


I want to be sick. I must keep calm, calm.


"Move, bitch. Fuck me."


I try to fix my mind on the words of the song; my heart is bursting inside me, I don't want to know what is happening. I want to stay in the confusion I'm in. I don't understand.... language, words, mean nothing to me.


Another cigarette.


"Move, bitch!"


I am as if turned to stone.


Now the next one pushes into me. He drives harder inside me than the first one. I feel a deep pain. "Move, bitch!" The razor that they used to cut my sweater slashes across my face. I can't feel whether it's cut me or not.


"Move, bitch. Fuck me."


Blood is running down my ears, from my cheeks.


Now it's the third one's turn.


It's so horrible to feel these animals getting pleasure inside you.


I manage to get out a couple of words: "I'm dying. I've got a heart condition." They believe me.... They don't believe me.... They start arguing. "Let's get rid of her.... " "No.... " "Yes." Someone hits someone. They crush a lighted cigarette onto my neck, just so as to stub it out.


At that point I think I finally fainted.


I feel them moving me. The one who was holding me from behind dresses me, with precise movements and with no embarrassment. He has to dress me.... I'm no use for anything. He's the only one who's not got undressed.... I mean, who's not had his trousers open. He's edgy, and irritated that he's not "screwed"; he's complaining like a spoilt child.... but I can feel that he's in a hurry, he's scared.


He doesn't know what to do with my torn sweater. He tucks the two ends into my trousers.


The van stops for just long enough to let me get out.... then it drives off.


I'm standing in a road. With my right hand I hold my jacket shut over my bare breasts.


It's almost dark. Where am I? Trees, grass.... I'm in the park.


I feel sick.... in the sense that I feel I'm about to faint.... not just because of the physical pain in my body, but also out of disgust.... because of the humiliation.... because of the feeling that somebody's spat into my brain a million times.... and because of the sperm that I feel spilling out of me.


I rest my head against a tree.... even my hair hurts. Oh yes.... they were pulling my hair to stop me moving my head.


I run my hand over my face.... It comes away covered with blood. I turn up my jacket collar.


I walk, I wander aimlessly....


Almost without noticing it, I find myself in front of a police station.


I lean against the side of a building opposite. I stare across at it, for a good while.


I think of what I would have to face if I went in.


I can hear their questions.


I can see their faces.... I can see them laughing....


I think for a moment or two.


Then I decide.


I'm going home.


I'll report it tomorrow.