An Italian woman could face up to six years in jail after her husband accused her of not doing enough cooking and cleaning at home.

Her husband made a formal complaint to the paramilitary Carabinieri police, saying that his wife was slovenly, failed to put meals on the table and left their home in a dreadful mess.

Rather than dismissing the case as a domestic dispute, the police referred it to judicial authorities.

They decided to send the matter to trial, with the 42-year-old wife facing between two and six years in prison if found guilty of the charge of "mistreatment within the family".


The crime, article 572 in the Italian penal code, "punishes whoever mistreats a person in their family or a person entrusted to them for reasons of education, care or custody".

The woman's husband, 47, accused her of "bad management of domestic affairs", in a case that reinforces a cliched image of the harassed Italian housewife cooking and caring for small children while her husband puts his feet up with a newspaper.

The couple live in the village of Sonnino, south of Rome.

The husband complained that for the past two years he had been chronically neglected by his wife. She failed to clean their house, refused to cook for him and on occasion kicked him out of the bedroom.

The trial is due to start in the town of Latina on October 12 and will be presided over by a female judge, Mara Mattioli.

"It's a case that seems to have come from the 50s and not from a country where equality between the sexes should be a given," commented one Italian newspaper, Il Tempo.

It is the second time in a week that the Italian judicial system has shown itself to be less than enlightened when it comes to relations between the sexes. On Wednesday, a court in Sicily ruled that a man who was accused of groping three female colleagues was not guilty of sexual harassment because his behaviour was playful, not "lascivious".