The Italian Almanac

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kneel and scrub

Italian News - July 19

Forcing your wife to kneel down and scrub the house floor clean is a crime because it amounts to mistreatment, Italy's highest appeals court ruled yesterday. The court upheld a conviction for ill-treatment handed down to a man who was left by his wife after what she said were years of abuse and threats.

"The husband humiliated and burdened her in every way, to the point of forcing her to clean the floor on her knees as a punishment for the insufficient dedication that in his view the woman put into housework," the court said. The man was sentenced to pay unspecified compensation to his wife, who has since returned to live with her parents, and ordered to provide child support for their son.

Italy's cassation court is often called on to settle what might seem like unusual legal disputes for a high court. The floor-scrubbing verdict came one day after it ruled that calling someone a "faggot" is a punishable insult. Both decisions will go some way to appeasing critics of the court, who say its judges are mostly conservative macho men.