Franca Viola

Franca Viola

The Lord has given me a great grace: I have never been afraid of anyone. I’m not afraid and I don’t feel resentment

Franca Viola

From a modest farming family, Franca Viola became famous in the 1960s when she was 17 years old after refusing a reparatory marriage to her rapist who had kidnapped, repeatedly raped, and held her hostage for eight days.

She is considered to be the first Italian woman who had been raped to publicly refuse marriage. This resulted in the prosecution of Filippo Melodia in December 1966 which took place in Trapani, Sicily. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison along with seven of his accomplices.

Viola married in 1968, had three-children and she is still happily married. Italian President Giuseppe Saragat and Pope Paul VI both expressed their admiration for Franca Viola’s courage. The Italian law permitting a rapist to vacate his crime by marrying his victim was not abolished until 1981.

Born 1948, Italy

Selected resources

  • Natalie Galli, “The Girl Who Said No: A Search in Sicily”, 2019
  • Katja Centomo, “Franca Viola. La ragazza che disse no”, 2018