Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni visited the Green Park neighborhood in Caivano, a Naples suburb, on Thursday, where two girls, cousins aged 11 and 12, were allegedly raped repeatedly by local youths. Meloni, who leads the right-wing Brothers of Italy party, pledged to improve safety and crack down on crime and drug trafficking in the area, which is under the influence of the Camorra crime syndicate.
Meloni was invited by the local parish priest, the Rev. Maurizio Patriciello, who has been campaigning for years against the social and environmental degradation of the neighborhood. Meloni met with local authorities, school officials and residents, and listened to their grievances and demands.
Meloni promised that an abandoned sports complex, where some of the alleged rapes took place, would be renovated and reopened by spring. She said 10 million euros ($11 million) have been allocated for the project, which will be carried out by the Italian army’s engineering corps. The complex, which includes swimming pools and tennis courts, will be run by police athletic organizations once it is operational.
Italian Prime Minister also announced that the number of police and justice officials in the area would be increased and that her government would not tolerate any “no-man’s lands” in Italy. She said she was shocked by the alleged rapes, which she called “an inhuman act, an infamous crime” that probably reflects more cases that go unreported.
The alleged rapes came to light last week, when the girls’ parents reported them to the police. The girls were placed in temporary custody of caregivers while investigators determine if their parents were aware of their whereabouts during the days of the attacks. So far, four suspects have been arrested and charged with aggravated rape and sexual violence against minors.
The case has sparked outrage and indignation across Italy, and has put a spotlight on the plight of the residents of Caivano and other suburbs of Naples, where poverty, unemployment, pollution and crime are rampant.