'Slap her' viral video shows young boys' reactions to violence against women

A scene from the video.

A video from Italy showing how boys react to the subject of violence against women has become an internet hit.

The video starts with an off-screen interviewer asking the children their name and age.

The protagonists, whose ages range from 7 to 11-years-old, are asked what they aspire to be when they grow up before being introduced to a young girl named Martina who is similar in age.

Some of the boys look surprised and puzzled, while one giggles.

The interviewer, credited as Luca Iavarone, then asks each of them what they like about her.

Their answers range from her hair to her eyes, with one boy even blurting out "I'd like to be your boyfriend".

But when the interviewer instructs them to "slap her" - they all resist.

One protagonist answers, "I don't want to hurt her".

Another adds: "As the saying goes: 'girls shouldn't be hit, not even with a flower'."

The video is produced by Italian news organisation Fanpage.it and looks like a public service announcement which aims to advocate for violence against women.

Mr Iavarone told SBS the girl was the only one aware of what questions would be asked, and that the boys' reactions were real.

"Like in many other countries, gender violence is a serious matter. The aim of this video is to reach as many people as possible thanks to the internet power," he told SBS in an email.

Mr Iavarone said he doesn't want this to just depict an issue for Italians, but about men in general.

"In fact, we hope that it could give women, who suffer domestic violence, the force to react like the kids do in the video. At the same time we hope that, by watching this video, women who suffer domestic violence, will ask themselves whether or not their abusers are acting like those kids."

"The final message is just this: faced with gender violence kids instinctvely choose right."

Fanpage.it says the boys are not actors, and through this game which plays with their conscience, it can show that children are able to question the behaviours relating to how women are treated.

"When the voice-over asks them to slap the girl, the kids decide to rebel and stop. This is the question: to rebel against the voice-over's order means to disobey common habits or imposition; it means to think by themselves," Mr Iavarone said.

"The final message is just this: faced with gender violence kids instinctvely choose right. So adults have to learn from them and at the same time they should ask themselves these questions."

The clip "Dalle uno schiaffo" (translates to "From A Slap") was posted on Facebook with the tagline "What happens when you put a boy in front of a girl and ask him to slap her?".

This 3 minute video has already racked up over 3.5 million views.

Source: SBS