Case 234

Franca Viola

*** Content Warning: child victim, sexual assault ***

In 1963, on the Italian island of Sicily, a wealthy young bachelor named Filippo Melodia began a courtship with a teenager named Franca Viola, much to the displeasure of Franca’s father. 

Less than three years later, Franca survived a terrifying ordeal, after which both Franca and Filippo had no choice but to leave their fate in the hands of the Sicilian justice system. At the centre of it all were six words and a quiet strength that would change their young lives, and Sicily, forever.



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Shocking drama in Palermo – La Stampa (7 August 1965)

Don Rodrigo in Sicily – Epoca (5 February 1966)

​​He raped a girl to marry her after kidnapping her with 12 accomplices – La Stampa (8 December 1966) 

The incredible story of Alcamo – La Stampa (12 December 1966)

The Civil Party asks for a “just condemnation” of the young man who kidnapped and raped the eighteen-year-old – La Stampa (13 December 1966)

Beauty defies old custom, charges rape – Gettysburg Times (10 December 1966)

The request for a physical examination on the 18-year-old who was kidnapped and raped – La Stampa (12 December 1966)

I asked for 23 years for the young man who kidnapped and raped the girl: tomorrow the sentence – La Stampa (15 December 1966)

“My daughter Franca will never marry the man who kidnapped and dishonored her” – La Stampa (16 December 1966)

Trapani: the judges in the Council Chamber Trapani – La Stampa (16 December 1966)

The kidnapper of Alcamo sentenced to 11 years – La Stampa (17 December 1966)

‘Kidnapped’ bride beats the Mafia – The People (18 December 1966)

The Mafia sentence Franca for beating them – Daily Mirror (19 December 1966)

Evolved Sicily in favor of the sentence of Trapani – La Stampa (19 December 1966)

Another girl kidnapped in the Trapani area by her ex-boyfriend who does not give up – La Stampa (20 December 1966)

Love Kidnapper – Daily Mirror (21 December 1966)

Sicilian girls say ‘no’ – Aberdeen Press and Journal (24 December 1966)

​​The girl from Salenti who has returned home also refuses to marry and reports her kidnapper La Stampa (26 December 1966)

New Symbols of modern Sicily – La Stampa (27 December 1966)

Eighteen-year-old non-octet ninths with the kidnapper La Stampa (24 January 1967)

Announcements – Illustrated London News (20 April 1968)

Victim Defies tradition to marry – The Evening News (4 December 1968)

Girl who defied the mafia is married – Birmingham Daily Post (5 December 1968)

Vatican City – Birmingham Daily Post (19 December 1968)

The kidnapper of Franca Viola murdered the girl who refused a make-up wedding – La Stampa (13 April 1978)

There can no longer be a shotgun wedding – La Stampa (18 February 1981)

Franca Viola: “I, who 50 years ago made history with my no to the repairing wedding – Republica (27 December 2015)

Honor killing and shotgun marriage: when women said enough – Republica (6 October 2021)



Story of a thwarted sunset: The abrogative law of the cause of honor and shotgun marriage – Political Gender Violence and Institutions (275-327), Vittoria Calabrò 

The case of Franca Viola: Debating Gender, Nation and Modernity in 1960s Italy – Contemporary European History, 25(1), 97-115, Niamh Cullen



Schizzi italiani: i volti dell’Italia moderna – Deirdre Pirro



Rocco Code – Penal Code, ROYAL DECREE 19 October 1930, n. 1398

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