Well Being

U.N. Report Details Shocking Rise Of ‘Femicide’ In Italy

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Italy has long been seen as one of the capitals of romance and love, but it's also gaining a new reputation in the international community as a place where domestic violence is not only common, but swept under the rug.

A shocking 109 women in Italy have been murdered this year alone by present or former boyfriends or husbands this year alone. Those within the 109 were of varying ages and financial situations and cities, but they all had something in common: their partners felt they had a right to take life away from these women. In a place where spousal rape only became illegal (and even recognized) in the late 90s, it makes all too much sense that women are still subjected to abuse from those who think it's somehow excusable.

“Murders of women take place mostly within the family, and mostly at the hands of former husbands or boyfriends. They also cross class lines and are committed just as often in rich families as in poorer ones,” said Rome gender crime head Francesca Monaldi.

According to a report by the United Nations, 90% of victims of domestic violence by their partners do not report the abuse. This is a striking number, though to be fair, over 80% of victims in the United States do not report their abuse, either. The report also speculates that gender stereotypes may be one of the main causes, as women are not treated remotely equally in Italian media. In fact, women are rarely given a chance to speak and in 2006, only 2% of women on television were “linked to issues of social commitment and professionalism.”

Milanese filmmaker Lorella Zonardo agrees that Italian women are presently unequal in society in part because of how women are portrayed, stating: “It was really a sort of exploitation of bodies, without bringing emancipation.” She also believes that “femicide” is how those who are clinging to the patriarchal society of the past are coping with changing gender roles. By keeping women afraid, these perpetrators and those who agree with the violence are able to maintain a sense of power.

The present struggle of Italian women is extremely important to recognize; not just for governments, but socially, we all need to acknowledge that places we may associate with cheeky overzealousness in men (which is often a form of aggression) can actually be less romantic and more anti-woman.

I think people tend to have this image of the Middle East or Africa being where sexism is the primarily prevalent, but in actuality, there are countries all over the globe where women are not treated as equals. This includes Europe, this includes America, regardless of the stereotypes and generalizations. Every place, every class–people, often women, are being abused by their partners. No matter where it is, this is worth paying attention to.

[NPR]

Photo: libcom.org

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