After signing an explicit agreement that she would become her husband's "slave," a saleswoman in Padua is suing for divorce, claiming that her partner physically abused her during their marriage and that he's stalked her since their split. Insert your obligatory Fifty Shades life imitates art imitates porn imitates a waking nightmare universe where E.L. James is graciously requesting that her Nobel Prize for literature be affixed to a black leather strap and used to choke her in front of a titillated audience.
According to the Telegraph, the couple celebrated their very specific slave/master nuptials in 2006. The marriage contract specified that the woman would refer to her husband (who was ten years her senior) as "padrone" or master, and further stipulated that "the slave agrees to obey and to offer herself for the satisfaction of the desires of her master." Though the woman was to "place her body at her master's disposition, to be used at his pleasure," the contract made exceptions for "coprophilia, bestiality, asphyxia/restriction of breathing, branding by fire, any activities involving weapons and any acts in general which could permanently mark her physically." Otherwise, anything was apparently fair game and, if the woman refused to keep to the agreement, certain vague and creepy-sounding "punishments" would be in order.
Since the divorce case is currently before the courts, the couple has remained unnamed, but basically what the slow-cogs of Italian justice are trying to figure out is whether the woman simply tired of the arrangement she agreed to ten years ago (when she was just 24), or her partner violated the contract himself by physically abusing her in a way that the couple had not previously agreed on. Observers have drawn parallels to Fifty Shades, obviously, but also to The Story of O, which is a dirty, dirty book about a Parisian photographer who lets herself be blindfolded, tied-up and whipped. People change A LOT in ten years, so it seems plausible that this sadomasochistic arrangement started to become a little less exciting and a lot more abusive over the course of the marriage. Signing a piece of paper still doesn't give someone carte blanche to abuse a partner (or anyone, for that matter), it just probably makes it way harder to ensure that an abusive partner faces justice.
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