Well-Heeled Mommy exists to see women set free to be their truest selves, to live out their destiny. We believe that every woman possesses a unique gift and calling intended to enrich the world. Similar to our fingerprints, the intended impact of each and every woman is unlike any other. When a woman encounters the freedom to live profitably, while also living authentically, the entire world benefits.
Welcome to your weekly invitation to meditate on the inspiriting work of a brave sister living and giving from her place of Divine gifting. Each week Well-Heeled Mommy features the work or words of a woman who has answered Destiny’s invitation to live courageously by living authentically. This week’s featured heroine is Franca Viola – a champion defender of female emancipation, women’s rights and dignity.
Viola grew up in a small farming town in Sicily, where she attracted the attention of a local mafioso, Filippo Melodia. She rejected his many advances. Then, in 1965, together with 12 friends he kidnapped 18-year-old Viola and repeatedly raped her. She was released more than a week later as the result of a covert operation her father coordinated with local police.
The Sicily of 1965 maintained sexual violence against women to be an offence against morals and not against the person. Any girl who suffered the disgrace of stolen virginity had little choice – she either submitted to a marriage of rehabilitation to restore her honor and that of her family, or she faced a future as a shunned spinster, labeled a slut, and forever to blame for the violence she endured.
In keeping with the customs of their culture, the rapist offered Viola a ‘marriage of rehabilitation,’ for a rapist who married his victim would have his crime automatically extinguished. She refused – an action so reprehensible to the mores of 1965 Italy that her entire family received death threats, including having their vineyard and cottage burned to the ground.
Nonetheless, Ms. Viola, together with the support of her family, appealed the law and pushed for Melodia’s prosecution. As a result, Melodia received 11 years imprisonment. Five of his accomplices were acquitted, and those remaining were given very lenient sentences. Melodia appealed his sentence and it was reduced to 10 years. In 1976, he was released from prison and banished from Sicily only to be killed in a mafia-style execution two years later in Modena.
Viola’s heroism and fortitude in the face of grave adversity and disheartening damnation paved the way to a revolution of Italian law and the culture’s attitude toward those who had suffered grievous injustice against their person and body.
Viola later married her childhood sweetheart and together they had three children. Italian President Giuseppe Saragat sent them $40 as a wedding present (over $250 today), the country’s Transport Minister gave the newlyweds a month of free railway rides, and Pope Paul VI received them in a private audience.
In 1970, a movie was made of Viola’s story, The Most Beautiful Wife.
And, in 1981, the article of law whereby a rapist could extinguish his crime by marrying his victim was abolished.
Let Ms. Viola’s story inspire you to live without compromise. Let no one’s expectations detour you from Destiny’s course. You owe no one an explanation for electing to live true to your high calling and unique purpose. Be courageous in your commitment to live authentically!