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LA STAMPA

Senior Citizens And Their Crimes Of Passion

Jealousy, fights, fits of rage...even murder: Italy has noticed a rise in reported cases of 60-something and 70-something men who kill their wives and lovers. What ever happened to those his and hers rocking chairs?

Most older couples still keep the peace (Alex E. Proimos)
Most older couples still keep the peace (Alex E. Proimos)
Grazia Longo

PALERMO - At every age, there are men who hate women with homocidal rage. And yes, there are more and more registered cases of men becoming killers in their sixties or seventies...when wisdom should prevail.

Recently, in Palermo, a 69-year-old retired man, Emauele Guaresi, tried to kill his wife with a hammer. She survived, and he was arrested for attempted murder. On the same day, another woman, Erna Pirpamer, a 66-year-old retired hairdresser from Mirano, wasn't as lucky. Her ex-boyfriend, a 32-year-old Tunisian gardener named Aouichaoui Boubaker, stabbed her to death.

In the last few months, Italy has seen quite a number of cases involving 70 or 80-year-old men attacking the women who refused their love, or who finally had the courage to speak up against years of violence. These senior-citizen killers hail from all over Italy.

In the small town of Campegine, close to Reggio Emilia, 71-year-old Sandro Rizzi shot the 42-year-old Ukrainian nurse who refused his advances, as well as the deliveryman he believed was his rival.

Last April, in Cuneo, Vittorio Ninotto, 76, choked his wife to death. Pierina Baudino, 82, had accused him of cheating on her with the cleaning lady. He got tired of her badgering, and killed her. In Civitaquana, Firminio Di Sano, 82, took his rifle and shot a 69-year-old man who was chatting up his wife. Luckily, the man survived.

Disagreements, quarrels, recriminations and small vendettas are not the prerogatives of young couples. Domestic crime is increasing among seniors, and so is the number of divorces.

No age-limit on passionate impulses

"Motives such as jealousy and domination don't change with age," explains psychologist Margherita Carlini, a criminologist who works with the Roman police force. "Thinking of seniors as wiser and devoid of passionate impulses is just a romantic idea. Moreover, we are going through a radical cultural change, which is revolutionizing couples' relationships. Age doesn't matter."

Women are becoming more aware, and finally are able to say no. "Recently, I saw the case of an 82-year-old woman who, tired of her husband's violence, asked to be admitted in a shelter for abused women. Her children didn't want to choose sides between her and her husband. She didn't have a choice."

As for men, Carlini cites a pharmacological explanation. "The diffusion of Viagra has surely contributed to making older men feel stronger and more powerful," she says. Many of them make advances on women who could be their daughters. Sometimes for love, other times to feel younger or to believe they can compete with younger men.

These stories sometimes end in tragedy. In the Sicilian city of Siracusa, a 36-year old man castrated the 80-year-old man who hit on his partner. He bled to death.

Other times, the fights between older couples simply end in divorce. "Relationships have changed and even mature couples want to be able to enjoy life as singles again," says family lawyer Francesca Zanasi. "When a man reaches retirement age, it can change the equilibrium and destroy an apparently stable relation. Just like when children leave home."

Read more from La Stampa in Italian.

Photo - Alex E. Proimos

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