Ossigeno will intervene as a civil party – The incident caused a sensation – Besides harming the journalist, it damaged the Observatory that defends the exercise of the right to information
OSSIGENO 28th July 2022 – Ossigeno per l’Informazione will be a civil party, alongside the Florence journalist Greta Beccaglia, in the criminal trial against the man who, on the 27th November 2021, in Empoli (Florence), groped her while she, live on television with the ToscanaTv broadcaster, commented on the outcome of the recently concluded “Serie A” football match Empoli – Fiorentina (read here)
After the sad incident, Ossigeno had already expressed sympathy and solidarity with the reporter and had encouraged her to report the harasser. Ossigeno made available to her the services and expertise of the Ossigeno Free Legal Aid Office, to defend her dignity as a woman and journalist intent on carrying out her work, with the assistance of a lawyer, as it is appropriate to do in circumstances like this both in the interest of the individual journalist and of all journalists. The harassment of a journalist carrying out her work with integrity, who exercises an activity of public interest protected by the Constitution, also damages an association such as Ossigeno per l’Informazione which is committed by its Statute to remove prejudices, obstacles and behaviours that hinder the exercise of press freedom, especially in the face of sexist attitudes to the detriment of women. Ossigeno has already been admitted to defend these values in other trials. It will also do so in Florence alongside Greta Beccaglia, who has decided to appear as a civil party with the assistance of the lawyer Leonardo Masi.
Faced with such obvious and unequivocal harassment, one cannot limit oneself to hotly issuing statements of indignation, as soon as one learns of the incident . It is necessary to defend the right to information and the dignity of reporters even in the legal arena.
Groping a woman at work (let alone a journalist) as an available sexual object is not allowed. But this is what happened on the evening of Saturday 27th November 2021 and it is what viewers saw live on their screens. After the smack on the backside from the first molester, two others groped even more casually the body of the journalist who maintained a professional demeanor, managing to control fear until the speedy ending of the broadcast.
THE EYE OF THE CAMERA – The images of this harassment have appeared on TV and have gone viral on the web. It is very rare that the sexist violence committed against female journalists in the course of their work is brought to the fore and put in the spotlight. In many cases they are passed over in silence, because the victims are afraid, they feel ashamed, they fear not being believed, or of having to clash with those who defend the harassers or minimize their actions. For this reason much violence is not even reported, for this reason many victims renounce appearing in a trial. The video-recorded incident of Empoli is atypical. The facts are placed in front of everybody and are difficult to deny. It makes us reflect on what more should be done to prevent and punish this violence, and leads us to ask ourselves what attitudes should be adopted by those who assist and those who are witnesses.
THE PRESENTER – The television images have also illuminated a side of the problem that usually remains in the shade: i.e., the behaviour of the harassed reporter’s colleagues. Is it always adequate? Why is it sometimes inadequate? What should be said to the reporter’s colleagues who, at the moment in which the incident occurs and even immediately afterwards, do not adopt a clear position, do not show themselves up to the situation? What can be done to prevent this from happening?
In the case of Empoli, the Toscana TV journalist who conducted the live broadcast from the studio expressed himself in a way that seemed questionable to many. “Don’t be mad,” he told her as she, highly embarrassed tried to continue her work in front of the camera. Probably he was just expressing his embarrassment. But then, after the second groping shown on the camera, the presenter decided to terminate the connection. According to numerous commentators, he used an expression that was somewhat unfortunate and reacted tardily. A response that was interpreted as an unjustifiable minimization of what was happening. Subsequently the presenter apologized. A few days later he ended his working relationship with Toscana TV. Some colleagues have portrayed him as an innocent individual who risked being scapegoated (read here).
OTHER HARASSMENTS – Greta Beccaglia said that she received other harassments, with the camera switched off, and that after the decision to report the harasser from Empoli and to refuse his apologies, she received threats. “I learned that he had apologized but – she told press agencies – I don’t care. His was a serious gesture. He touched my body without having permission. For me it was shocking and yet I was lucky because I was live in front of a camera ”(read here).
COMMENTS – After the incident in Empoli, the president of the Order of Journalists of Tuscany, Giampaolo Marchini, said: “Whoever was in the studio, instead of condemning the gesture and the harasser, invited the colleague to ‘not take offence’ . No words of solidarity were heard towards her from the presenter ”. The Order said it was willing to appear as a civil party alongside Greta Beccaglia, despite the fact that she is not in the register of journalists.
The journalists’ union has also announced that it will be a civil party alongside the correspondent when the molester will be tried.
SOLIDARITY to Greta Beccaglia was expressed immediately after the harassment, by the Equal Opportunities Commissions of National Federation of Italian Press, Usigrai and by GiULiA group of female journalists, who wrote: “With great professionalism, Greta Beccaglia carried on the live broadcast despite being in a sort of infernal merry go round where verbal and physical harassment continued. Only after the second incident of groping, did the presenter in the studio realise the gravity of the situation and terminate the broadcast, allowing her to react ”.
Even the political world sided with Greta Beccaglia (read here), with public statements by Nicola Fratoianni, secretary of the Italian Left, who spoke of an “intolerable and hateful gesture”, by Anna Rossomando, vice president of the Senate for the Democratic Party, by Maria Saeli, treasurer of “+ Europa” party. Laura Ravetto, a member of the Lega party, and Laura Boldrini, a former president of the Chamber, also condemned the incident, expressing strong solidarity with the Toscana TV correspondent.
The mayor of Florence Dario Nardella and the mayor of Empoli Brenda Barnini defined what had happened “unacceptable” and called for justice. Meanwhile, the Fiorentina fan, the perpetrator of the gesture, has been condemned for sexual violence and has already received a 3-year ban on attending sporting events.