The summer has been a trickle of crimes against women to which we must react with great determination and action on several levels – The experiences of the UK, Canada, and Spain teach us something.
by Claudia Segre
It is a deafening silence that leaves the many, too many women victims of violence that does not stop and proliferates on a deadly mix of cultural stereotypes and stigma towards women and girls. Yes, because feminicide and violence against women has become more and more heinous and the age of the victims has fallen dramatically.
Travelling the length and breadth of Italian schools with the documentary film testimony “Libere di…VIVERE”, the students’ question is always the same: When did the feminicides start? Why violence against women? Because even in the face of filmed testimonies, social addiction nowadays makes it difficult to accept that those stories are real and that domestic violence is one of the leading causes of death for women between the ages of 16 and 54.
I am convinced that explaining what violence is, the different forms well defined in the Istanbul Convention such as physical, sexual, psychological and economic (1) violence, listening to and supporting that half of the country that feels increasingly targeted moves all Italian citizens and is increasingly perceived as transcultural and intergenerational, because it is a battle without social boundaries.
From the traditional 19th century extended family, we have slowly moved on to the nuclear family where a murder was still called uxoricide and was tied to the marriage bond. But it is precisely thanks to the Istanbul Convention of 2011, ratified by Italy in 2013, and the consequent law 119 of 2013 that the concept is broadened to speak of feminicide to connote above all women killed not only because they are wives but also cohabitees, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, family members up to children. Yes, because the cycle of violence against women and domestic violence confronts us with widespread social damage and equally abnormal costs to underestimate. According to the EIGE, 80 per cent of gender-based violence refers to women, with a charge for Italy of about 39 billion eur between direct and indirect costs! (judicial services, medical care, social services, legal services, sheltered houses and assistance to families and orphans…).
This is an issue that has legally seen a belated recognition: on the other hand, we know very well that we had to wait until 1981 for the abolition of honour killing and 1996 for rape to be finally defined as a crime against the person, after almost twenty years of debate, before the Rocco Code was ultimately shelved.
Now it is we who have to ask ourselves if we want to uncover that Pandora’s box and give a courageous answer to the new generations, and deal with its contents together, without ideological colouring or gender distinctions, because we are not faced with an emergency but with a structural social phenomenon that has been going on for too long, we have to work together and this is undoubtedly the spirit that drives the Observatory on the phenomenon of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and its Technical Scientific Committee whose intent lies precisely in the alliance of stakeholders on common long-term objectives.
As demonstrated by Bill No. 1294 of last June on ‘Provisions for combating violence against women and domestic violence’ on the initiative of the Government of the Minister for the Family, Birth and Equal Opportunities, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Justice, which was assigned to the Second Commission of Justice on 4 August with an ‘accelerated’ procedure. Seeing the three Ministries cooperate for a common purpose is an excellent sign and, hopefully, the beginning of a regulatory framework substantiated by a systemic approach supported by all the political forces in the country.
Wanting to tighten criminal laws, the extension of the prohibition of approaching and the use of electronic bracelets is a necessary first step to systematically address other aspects, such as that of mandatory training already highlighted in the Istanbul Convention and made operational, even if not fully implemented, by Article 5 of the so-called ‘Code Red’ law.
Many other priorities will have to be operationalised, also noting that in other European countries, and from Great Britain to Canada, they have been successful, such as :
– The creation of specialised courts; – The intensification of awareness campaigns; – The involvement of all school orders in an active collaboration; – Strengthening the third sector network on prevention.
But above all, the fact that compulsory training is needed on violence against women, from police officers to social workers and above all to magistrates, to eradicate an atavistic cultural heritage is now evident to all. As is the fact that specific shocking sentences, such as in the most recent rape cases, are not isolated cases of injustice but the POINT OF AN ICEBERG on which it is ‘necessary to shed light once and for all and to consider class actions!
In the same way, the example of Spain, which has clearly defined rape as ‘any sexual act performed without consent could help curb feminicides, and support the prevention work in which the third sector is strenuously engaged’. Thanks to these measures working synergistically on regulatory language, data and sanctions, the battle can be won; targeted action is ‘nothing without clear rules that do not give space to unacceptable sentences and instead affect prevention made of widespread and mandatory training.
So that from the silence of the women who lost their lives may emerge the voice of a country united in a new pact between generations, where education in feelings, emotions and respect are central to the full self-determination of boys and girls who can once again see a future in front of them, overcoming fear.
Note (1) “This Convention applies in peacetime and in situations of armed conflict.
Article 3 – Definitions
For the purposes of this Convention
(a) the term ‘violence against women is intended to designate a violation of the
human rights and a form of discrimination against women, including all acts of
gender-based violence that causes or is likely to cause harm or suffering of
physical, sexual, psychological or economic nature, including threats to commit such actions, the
coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether in public or private life;
(b) ‘domestic violence’ means all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence occurring within the family or household or between present or
previous spouses or partners, regardless of whether the perpetrator shares or
shared the same residence with the victim;
(d) the term ‘gender-based violence against women means any direct violence
against a woman as such, or which affects women disproportionately…‘