ITALY - DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & FEMICIDE
Image care of Massimiliano Preciso.
According to Nicoletta Livi Bacci of the Artemisia women’s
Behold the dark side of the passion-fueled “latin lover”; the urgent human rights issue nobody wants to talk about; the one Italians think is a private matter that should be dealt with at home. It is this prevailing attitude of course that has contributed to what is fast becoming a veritable epidemic of femicide in this country.
In March, Barbie Latza Nadeau reported
for the Daily Beast on a spike in domestic-violence murders at the beginning of
this year that justifiably outraged women’s groups and finally started setting
off alarm bells for everyone else. Nadeau quotes Justice Minister Elsa Fornero
at a conference on domestic violence in
This is not a private matter any longer. The road is long, and
Half the women killed had previously called the police at least once. The majority were stalked first. A harrowing stalking experience in Italy led Swiss-Italian actress Michelle Hunziker to join forces with lawyer Giulia Bongiorno and start Doppia Difesa (“Double Defense”), a foundation to support victims of physical, verbal or sexual violence. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, there isn’t even a word for ‘stalking’ in Italian. They use the English word.) The first two lines of the foundation’s objective make no bones: “Discrimination, violence and abuse are fueled by silence. VIOLENCE IS NOT A PRIVATE MATTER: OPEN THAT DOOR.”
Like Fornero, Sabrina Frasca, the director of the ‘Maree’
On the rising rate of femicides in Italy (127 in 2010, 137 in 2011) lawyer Barbara Spinelli told Il Manifesto newspaper: “the family kills more [women] than the Italian Mafia, more than foreign organized crime.”
However, if you think this doesn’t hit close to home, think
again. In Europe and
I’ll just let that one register for a moment.
Let’s also be clear: all these statistics convey what has
actually been reported. Who knows how many other cases have been swept under
the domestic rug? I can relate to those women who never went to the police, because
I’m one of them. Several years ago I lived with someone (in
That’s the thing: it can happen to any of us. I realize now that my silence was another form of victim-blaming. The idea that only a certain type of woman lets her male companion get away with abusing her is obviously preposterous. Yet it’s precisely this focus on the victim that’s at the core of so-called rape culture, which allows (male-led) media outlets to focus on how Hunziker has “cleaned up her image” since being stalked and refers to her abuse as a “consequence” of her stripping on television as a younger woman.
There is nothing women can do to prevent men from abusing them. The only way to fight violence against
women is by understanding that MEN CAN CHOOSE NOT TO ABUSE. Men are capable of
controlling themselves. According to a recent study on femicide by the Casa
delle donne in
Maybe you’re thinking: Ok, all of this is awful. But what can I do about it?
Well, if you happen to be in
The first, in
Artemisia … has been helping women and children who have been victims of domestic violence since 1991. In the past year Artemisia has helped over 1200 women and their children rebuild their lives, yet their funding has been cut back by almost 35%. They need our support so that they can keep helping women to dare to dream of a better life for themselves and their children.
The second event is a national public gathering to be held over
the weekend of Oct. 13 and 14 in various public spaces around
If you’re not in