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Italy and its women: work in progress

13217085844_4253b07c99_kIn recent years the peninsula has seen an increase in violence against women. 152 women were killed in 2014, 117 of which at home.

Social and legal actions are required to battle this worrying trend.

Since his government came to office in February 2014, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has broken some historical records. Although the cabinet was not democratically elected, it is the first one in which the number of female ministers equals the number of male ministers. It is also the youngest Italian cabinet of all times with an average age of 47.

Gender balance has been an important aspect of the new Italy but outside the political arena figures show a disturbing reality.

According to a survey by the Italian Institute of Statistics, nearly 7 million women have been victims of some sort of violence during their life. That is an average of one in three. Physical and sexual violence hold the highest positions.

Here is an interactive chart that displays the most reoccurring patterns in violence against women in Italy:

Legal action

This summer a new act was voted by the parliament that should make it easier for women to take legal action against their abusers and prevent victims from being further intimidated.

Still, this was not substantiated with extra fund allocations and concerns are being raised for the future of women’s crisis centres.

Violence against women is a widespread crime throughout the country and within the family. Rape figures indicate that in 62.7 per cent of the cases, partners or ex-partners are the perpetrators. Another worrying statistics shows a large number of children assist abuse on their own mother. This happens in 65.2 per cent of violent households.

The following map reflects the figures of 2014 in each Italian region:

Four different aspects are shown:

1) percentage of women aged 16-70 that encountered some form of abuse in a specific region

Within a region:

2) percentage of women with a partner, who were assaulted by that same partner

3) percentage of women with an ex-partner, who were assaulted by the ex-partner

4) percentage of women who were assaulted by strangers

The distribution on the map indicates that violence occurs across the 20 regions of Italy and that it is not restricted to a particular area. Peaks can be seen in the regions of Rome (39.2 per cent) and Genoa (37.6 per cent), whereas Potenza (23.7 per cent) has the lowest percentage of all.

The South seems less affected than North and Central Italy but that could be associated with a lack of condemnation, where women do not acknowledge the violence as such and abuse stays within the household.

All in all, national figures are falling compared to previous years but the nature of assaults is often more severe with death as a final stage. In particular, stalking forms a difficult issue to tackle as 3,466,000 Italian women have been victims which often leads to physical violence. The survey also revealed that 10.6 per cent of women experience sexual violence before the age of 16 and those with a disability or health issue have 50 per cent more chance to be raped.


-Research Centre EURES

-National Statistics Institute

Words by Claudia de Meulemeester

Picture by thierry ehrman

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