Italy’s kissing protester charged with sexual assault

Demonstrator Nina De Ciffre kisses a riot police officer on November 16, 2013 during a protest in Susa against the high-speed train (TAV in Italian) line between Lyon and Turin. The link, expected to come into service in 2025, will see one million fewer trucks on the highways a year, and reduce train times between Paris and Milan from seven hours to just over four. Marco Bertorello (AFP)/Getty Images

Some saw a passive act of protest, but Italian police are calling it sexual assault.

The photograph of 20-year-old student Nina De Chiffre planting a kiss on the plastic face guard of a riot policeman’s helmet was widely circulated last month.

She was among thousands of demonstrators in the northwestern village of Susa on Nov. 16, protesting the construction of a new high-speed rail link between the city of Turin and Lyon, France.

According to Agence France Presse, the protesters wanted to “lay siege to this little part of the country that is indebting millions of Italians.”

Time magazine called De Chiffre’s kiss “the best protest tactic you’ve ever seen.”

But, according to the Telegraph, there were no pacifist intentions when she smooched the mask of officer Salvatore Piccione.

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“No peace message. I would hang all these disgusting pigs upside down,” she reportedly said on her Facebook page and she was apparently trying to provoke the officer.

The Telegraph reported she was angered by the police beating of another protester at a previous rally.

The police union isn’t taking the kiss lightly either and is accusing De Chiffre of sexual assault and “insulting a public official.”

The police union submitted a formal complaint to the prosecutor’s office in Turin.

“We have accused the protester of sexual violence and insulting a public official,” said police union secretary general Franco Maccari. “We fully expect an investigation to start.”

“If the policeman had kissed her, World War Three would have broken out,” Maccari told Italy’s La Repubblica. “Or what if I had patted her on the behind? She would have been outraged… So if she does that to a man on duty, should it be tolerated?”

Piccione reportedly said he had a duty not to react to the kiss.

“When I’m wearing my uniform I represent the police institution, and I have an obligation not to react to provocation,” the Independent reported him saying.

He noted the protest went on peacefully.

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What are your thoughts? Was Nina De Chiffre’s kiss an “act of sexual violence?”

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