Sexual assault is sadly a common issue; statistics show that over half of women and almost 1 in 3 men have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. And the number could be underestimated because many cases are unreported. Sexual assault causes harm to victims’ lives and could have a dangerous impact on communities and society.

A court ruling in Italy found a 66-year-old school janitor not guilty of sexual assault because the act lasted less than 10 seconds and didn’t have sexual intent. The school janitor touched a 17-year-old girl inappropriately and admitted it, but claimed it was just a joke.

Real Research, an online survey app, launched a survey on Italy’s 10-second groping rule to hear public opinion.


  • 75.85% disagreed with the judge’s ruling that the duration of the groping incident in Italy didn’t qualify it as a crime.
  • Almost half of the respondents (42.2%) thought the duration of a groping incident should be a determining factor in classifying it as assault.
  • Social media trends could bring attention to issues, according to 70.6%.

Italy’s 10-Second Groping Rule

The school caretaker, Antonio Avola, acknowledged the incident but insisted it was a joke. The judge acquitted him of sexual assault charges because the incident lasted less than 10 seconds, which the judge said disqualified it from being a crime. The responses to the question of whether they agreed or disagreed with Italy’s 10-second groping rule were as follows: 56.19% strongly disagreed, 19.66% disagreed, 17.94% were neutral, 4.31% agreed, and 1.89% strongly agreed.

Italians used social media platforms to show their opposition to the Italian judge’s 10-second groping rule. They posted videos on Instagram and TikTok of themselves touching a sensitive part of their body for 10 seconds while the timer was counting. The videos were an attempt to show how fairly long 10 seconds could be. We asked our survey participants if they were familiar with this social media trend; 56.92% were familiar, and 43.08% were unfamiliar.

How To Identify Sexual Harassment

The judge based his ruling on the duration, and according to our survey respondents, 42.2% believed that the duration of a groping incident should be a determining factor in classifying it as sexual assault. 29.91% were unsure, and 27.89% didn’t believe that the duration was a determining factor.

Figure 1: Do you believe that the duration of a groping incident should be a determining factor in classifying it as sexual assault?

20.75% of respondents to our survey agreed that when determining whether a particular act constitutes sexual harassment, one should take into account any applicable laws or legal definitions of sexual harassment. 16.81% asked if the behavior resulted in sexual humiliation, while 15.92% believed that consent should be considered. 12.33% believed the scene of the crime should be considered, 11.98% the relationship between the sexual offender and the victim, 11.16% the accused’s intent, and 11.06% the length of the incident.

Figure 2: Which of the following considerations do you think should be taken into account when judging certain behaviors to be sexual harassment?

Public Reaction to the Judge’s Rule

Women’s rights organizations criticized Italy’s 10-second groping rule. Christina Ercoli, head of the anti-violence center at Differenza Donna, said that the younger generation mobilizing on social media was making it clear that “they have no doubt” that the decision was wrong. “They don’t need us to say that it was a crime.”

Social media trends are likely to bring attention to the issue of sexual harassment in Italy according to 70.6% of our respondents. 25.2% were unsure, and 4.19% said that it was not likely.

Figure 3: Would you support a review and potential revision of the law regarding sexual offenses in Italy to prevent similar rulings in the future?

Lastly, when we asked if they would support a review and potential revision of the law regarding sexual offenses in Italy to stop future instances of the same ruling, 43.59% said yes, 36.38% were neutral, and 20.03% disagreed.


Survey TitleSurvey on Italy’s 10-second Groping Rule
DurationAugust 20 – August 28, 2023
Number of Participants10,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.