At the end of December, a priest in a village in northern Italy pinned a notice to his church. Outrage and protests followed across the country. Women, suggested Father Piero Corsi, increasingly share the blame for domestic and sexual violence. They exacerbate household tensions with “children left to themselves, dirty houses, cold dishes, fast food and filthy clothes”. While he wrote that violence can never be excused, he linked it to the way women dress: “They provoke the worst instincts, which end in violence or sexual abuse. They should search their consciences and ask: did we bring this on ourselves?”
His ideas were condemned by everyone from the local mayor to the Vatican. The regional bishop advised the priest to take a rest from his duties. Corsi seemed genuinely taken aback by the strength of the reaction against him. And although some women’s rights groups urged him to resign, he merely issued a public apology before returning to work at his church in San Terenzo di Lerici, near La Spezia, in January, saying he had not meant to cause offence.