Another day, another shameless stunt designed to inflame the internet rage machine. This time, it’s an Italian PSA about domestic violence, in which the grown-up interviewers ask little boys to hit a girl they just met on the street.
Newsflash: they refuse.
The video, which has racked up more than 33 million views and 28,000 comments on Facebook, was made by Italian media company Ciaopeople, which runs Fanpage, an online newspaper, and YouMedia, a video service. Its intent is to bring attention to Italy’s domestic violence problem. Domestic battery is the most pervasive form of violence against Italian women. More than 31% of Italian women between 16 and 70 have faced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to a 2012 UN report. Male-on-male murders have decreased in Italy since the early 1990s, while the number of women murdered by men has increased. Former Prime Minister Enrico Letta enacted a 12-point decree in 2013 to help strengthen penalties for abusers and protections for victims, in an effort to curb the growing numbers of murdered women, which he called “femicide.”
The video has sparked some serious debate with thousands of users weighing in on key domestic violence issues. Positive Facebook comments praised the young men’s moral character and called the video inspiring and heartwarming. But other commenters pointed out out that the video should be against all violence, not just violence against women. Other viewers pointed out that they interviewer asked the boys to “caress” the girl without her consent.
And still others noted that randomly hitting a female stranger because someone tells you to is not a good analogy for domestic violence since most abuse happens in the home, with an intimate partner, and within the context of a long relationship. Plus, these boys seem super uncomfortable with the whole scenario, as does the girl for that matter.