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Row erupts over rape comments made by Italian PM’s partner

A row has erupted in Italy after a journalist and the partner of Giorgia Meloni appeared to suggest that women could avoid rape by not getting too drunk, with opposition parties calling on the prime minister to distance herself from his comments.

“If you go dancing you are fully entitled to get drunk … but if you avoid getting drunk and losing consciousness, perhaps you’d also avoid getting into trouble, because then you’ll find the wolf,” Andrea Giambruno said on his show on the right-leaning channel Rete 4 after recent high-profile gang rape cases near Naples and in Palermo.

Giambruno, who has a seven-year-old daughter with Meloni, agreed during the show with the editor of the rightwing Libero newspaper, Pietro Senaldi, who said: “If you want to avoid rape, above all don’t lose consciousness, keep your wits about you.”

Both men voiced condemnation of the rapists, whom they described as “wolves”, but the comments caused a storm on social media, with posters accusing Giambruno of victim blaming.

Cecilia D’Elia, a senator for the centre-left opposition Democratic party (PD) and vice-president of the commission of inquiry into femicide, said: “They just can’t help but blame women. Don’t go out alone, don’t go where it’s dark, don’t dress provocatively. All this is no longer acceptable.”

“If a girl drinks too much, she can expect a headache, not a rape,” she added, and called on Meloni to distance herself from her partner’s comments.

The opposition Five Star Movement party (M5S) said in a statement that “Giambruno’s words are unacceptable and shameful” and “they represent a male-dominated and retrograde culture”.

Giambruno replied saying: “If I had said something wrong, I would have apologised, but that’s not the case and there will never be a day when a politician tells me what to say.

“I said rape is an abominable act. I took the liberty of telling young people not to go out on purpose to get drunk and do drugs. I advised them to be careful because, unfortunately, the bad guys are always out there. I never said that men are entitled to rape drunk women.”

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Meloni has not commented.

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