5 Oct 2011

You could be forgiven for thinking that the appeal trial over the murder of Meredith Kercher only involved one person instead of two. That's because the coverage of Amanda Knox was so grossly disproportionate to that of her co-accused, Rafaelle Sollecito, that it was very easy to forget that both a man and a woman were appealing against their conviction for murder. Is it paranoid to imagine that this is because Knox is female? Perhaps a little. There are other factors too - Knox is American, whereas Sollecito is Italian, and since the US is notoriously parochial about its media reporting, and the UK media notorious for picking up whatever's big in the US media, it's gonna be the US citizen on trial who gets the coverage. But, it's not just that either. What's really been on trial here is Knox's personality. She's been called a 'she-devil' and had other vivid religious slurs cast upon her by the prosecution. Much has been made of her promiscuity and penchant for 'hot, wild sex'. In comparison, absolutely diddly squat has been said about Sollecito's sexual preferences, personality or behaviour even though he was convicted for exactly the same things Knox was - murder and sexual assault.

Whatever you make of the evidence - and by Christ the Italian police seem to have worked together to make sure no one will ever really know the truth, so bungled were the forensics in this case - there's nothing about Knox's sex life that's relevant to this case. If the prosecution were trying to establish that there's a link between an active sex life and cutting someone's throat, they would have subjected Sollecito to the same scrutiny - but they didn't. All they really wanted to do was undermine Knox's credibility by, basically making her look like a big slut. Because the mass media and its consumers will always prefer their females passive, innocent and asexual, otherwise they can't be deemed 'faultless' and can't be deemed a 'true victim'. Madonna/whore dichotomy? Oh yes. And it's pretty clear which the prosecution were trying to make Amanda Knox out to be.

What's easy to forget when you're listening to the misogynistic rantings of an Italian prosecutor who equates being a sexually active woman with being Satan, is that 24 year old girls have sex. A lot. They own vibrators, buy sexy underwear, have one-night stands, behave in ways that may cause the older generation to purse their lips a lot. There is no connection between this behaviour and sexually assaulting and murdering another young woman, else we'd be seeing a Kercher-type murder occurring most nights of the week in Britain alone. Whatever you think about Amanda Knox as a person, if you believe in unbiased justice, then you must agree that the handling of her trial in Italy constituted anything but.

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