A French woman’s struggle to bring her rapist to justice

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In France, only one in ten women has to report a rape. As the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Friday, TUSEN investigates the case of a young woman who has brought criminal charges against her rapist. But after six years of court battles, her abuser walked away a free man.

Karine Sanzalone was walking home late one night in October 2016 when a taxi driver offered her a ride.

She was just 19 and the taxi driver told her that it is unsafe for a young woman to be alone on the street at night.

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Sanzalone felt vulnerable. The taxi driver seemed nice. She got in the car and her life changed forever. The taxi driver raped the teen.

“It was late at night. I shouldn’t have gotten in. I was young and I should have known better. All the while I’ve been telling myself I should have seen it coming,” she said. the feeling that stays with me the most.”

Sanzalone was in a state of shock for three days before she decided to go to the police.

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The attacker was known to the police. He had previously been sentenced to a year in prison for assault.

When her rapist attacked another victim ten days later, the prosecutor finally opened an investigation.

Six years later, he received a four-year suspended sentence and two years of so-called alternative detention, which is electronic tagging. In other words, he was free to leave court that day.

For Sanzalone’s lawyer, Sonia El Midouli, it came as a shock, but not a surprise. “With this four-year suspended sentence and two years of alternative detention, we felt that the court had deliberately decided that this man would not spend a day in prison – because he has a job, he is an entrepreneur, because he is in custody has been taken would have slowed down his psychiatric treatment he started years earlier. And also because the prisons here are overcrowded,” she explained.

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In France, according to studies, only six out of 1,000 sexual assaults are found guilty by a court.

Now 25, Sanzalone continues to fight for justice and still hopes for an outcome other than a second trial, which will not take place until 2024.

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