Italy

“Until he first raised his hands against me”

Stories of women and gender-based violence

Different stories, identical destinies, marked by a past involving men fossilized in violence and oppression and the present, where women provide support to other women in a safe place where they are free to talk about that past and, partly, emancipate themselves from it.

Male violence against women, often viewed as a private affair, actually represents a structural and social phenomenon that ranges from physical, sexual, economic and psychological violence all the way to stalking, rape and femicide – the killing of a “rebellious” woman, who is perceived by that man as his possession.

The statistics for Italy shows that this violence has a worryingly high frequency and in particularly dark years numbers have even reached one femicide every two days. The act of taking the life of a woman is almost always the culmination of an ordeal of violence and oppression and is a phenomenon that does not seem to discriminate according to differences between north and south, cities and small towns, social classes and ethnic groups.

These same stories were repeated again and again during the pandemic and the number of women who turned to domestic violence support centres grew exponentially: in 2020 calls increased by 79.5% compared with the previous year.

All of this leads us towards one central fact: violence against women knows no respite. In fact, when it comes to any form of violence, it is necessary to reinforce the political and cultural choices that provide more systemic training and prevention, with a substantial increase in the number of adequately trained staff that respect women’s choices.

Vittoria Tola
Secretary General of UDI (Unione Donne in Italia)