Tiziana Cantone mother: Was my daughter’s suicide in vain? A parent reflects on what brought her daughter to death and demands new measures.
A sobering report via the bbc has told of Maria Teresa Giglio, the mother of Italy’s Tiziana Cantone coming to grips of the aftermath of her daughter’s suicide death after the 31 year old woman hung herself in September.
Tiziana’s suicide came after the woman had fought to quash an adult tape she had appeared in making the rounds. But by then, even a local victory in the courts did nothing to assail her as the woman had become a parody of sexual mores and had left her embittered and in deep despair.
The saga began in April 2015 when the 31 year old woman sent a series of explicit videos to five people via WhatsApp. One of the recipients included her then boyfriend, Sergio Di Palo.
The video showed the woman performing a sex act with a number of unidentified men, including that of Di Palo.
The videos were soon shared and uploaded to several adult websites. The physical actions on the tapes did not stand out. But a single sentence from Tiziana Cantone did.
‘You’re making a video?’ she asked the man holding the camera. ‘Bravo!’
The words suggested an uninhibited young woman, who enjoyed being filmed during sex. Ironically the uttering of those very worlds served to give viewers license to watch the video without reservations: if she was so happy to be filmed, she wouldn’t mind them watching.
But Italians did more than watch. Users soon turned her comment into a meme-worthy punchline. Her image appeared on t-shirts and parody websites.
Mused social commentator Selvaggia Lucarelli: ‘People confuse being an uninhibited person with wanting to go viral,’
‘You can film a video, share it with some people but there’s a tacit agreement that you won’t share it further.’
From there, Tiziana took the case to court, arguing the tapes were uploaded to public sites without her consent. By this time, she was no longer able to live a normal life.
Told a confidante of Tiziana’s, ‘She didn’t want to go out as people would recognize her. She realized that the virtual world and the real world were the same thing’.
‘She understood at some point that the situation would never be resolved; that a potential husband, her potential children could find those videos; that they would never disappear.’
Tiziana Cantone retreated to her family home, in Mugnano, a working-class suburb of Naples.
It took her mother, Maria Teresa, weeks to find the strength to tell reporters about her daughter’s life.
Told the mother via the bbc: ‘My daughter was a good girl but she was also vulnerable,’
‘She lacked a paternal figure, from birth. She never met her father. This affected her entire life.’
Reiterated the mother: ‘Her life was ruined, in front of everyone,’
‘People made fun of her, parodies ended up on pornographic websites. She was called shameful names.’
In September, a court in Naples ordered the intimate videos to be removed from several websites and search engines. But the court also ordered her to pay €20,000 (£17,200, $21,600) in legal costs.
It was all too much.
On 13 September 2016, Tiziana Cantone hung herself.
Told the woman’s mother, ‘The day she died, my life ended.’
Yet the paradox of Tiziana’s suicide death, is by having taken her own life, she drew even more attention to the videos she hoped everyone might forget.
Ironically Tiziana’s death only served to expose more scrutiny to an existence she had desperately sought to remain private, after effectively having lost her privacy after the tape went viral and took on a meaning devoid of who she may actually have been in day to day real-life.
Questions journalists and commentators the world reflected on as Tiziana’s body was carried through a funeral procession to her final resting place.
In a bid to understand what her daughter had been forced to prevail through, Tiziana’s mother forced herself to watch the tapes.
Said the mother: ‘You can only imagine what it is like. I wanted to see details that would allow me to understand the truth. That was not my Tiziana.’
The mother was convinced that her daughter was under the effect of drugs.
She believes that the distribution of the videos didn’t happen by chance.
‘It’s as if this was a premeditated, criminal plan. They just wanted to show the face of this poor girl, with the intention of exposing her on the internet.’
In the aftermath of Tiziana Cantone’s suicide, the tone of Italy’s debate about pornography and privacy has changed.
‘I think this case did make a difference, quite drastically, to the way that Italian journalists talk about these cases of revenge porn,‘ says social commentator Selvaggia Lucarelli.
Reflected the woman further: ‘People think that their virtual life and their real life are parallel realities,’
‘They’re not. They coincide. The web is our life. So anything that you don’t do in real life you shouldn’t do online.’
While Tiziana’s videos can no longer be found on the main search engines, they still exist.
Her mother wants Italy and the rest of the EU to agree a much faster way to get private material removed from the internet and make the big internet firms act responsibly.
For Tiziana’s mother, life is now a fight to defend her daughter’s name, and to prevent others from suffering the same fate.
Tells the mother: ‘I hope that the name Tiziana Cantone, instead of standing for mockery, becomes a name that could save the lives of other women. I would like this to happen. To save other people.’
Which is to wonder, was Tiziana Cantone’s suicide death in vain, or will her struggle force a re-examination of social mores and the sense that the public must bear some culpability for their voyeuristic behavior on another member of society.
A lesson that is perhaps lost on most, until the day they too find themselves being virally bullied, subjected, and typified those things and attitudes that normally lie in one’s recess but with the anonymity of the internet can exist to flourish.
Reiterated the mother: ‘We call for the justice system to act so that her death was not in vain.’
Time will tell what measures lawmakers will seek to exact to temper rampant behavior and retain a woman’s right to her self and body without the fear of ridicule and unrelenting hounding that has more to do with an unsettled public than that of one daring to live and express themselves beyond convention.