Reports show gender-based violence persists in Italy

Rome, Feb 27: Gender-based violence persisted at high levels in Italy despite a recent law targeting perpetrators with stricter penalties, and victims were increasingly found in women belonging to medium and upper classes, a report released Wednesday showed.

One hundred and twenty-eight women were killed by husbands, male partners, or former boyfriends in 2013, with a mild increase compared to the 124 victims registered the previous year, Telefono Rosa, a women association, said in its report ‘The secret voices of violence.’

The study analysed data concerning the “femicide” cases, and over 1,500 other cases of abused women who called the association for help. According to the findings, gender-based violence in Italy has nothing to do with cultural or economic backwardness.

“This is an old prejudice… At least 21 percent of victims had a bachelor degree and 53 percent of them were graduated in 2013,” the report’s authors stressed. Neither education nor professional emancipation seemed to be enough to protect women from domestic violence, they added.

“Similar data were found among perpetrators, with 64 percent of them showing a medium-high level of education and socio-economic status,” the report said. The majority of offenders were men between the ages of 35 and 54, with only a 15 percent of cases related to boys and men under 35.

The average age of the victims was also higher than in the past, with abuses against 45-54-year-old women increasing to 28 percent. Despite these figures and for the first time in the last seven years, however, 15 girls under the age of 15 were also killed by male partners last year, the report pointed out.

Italy was among the first European countries to ratify the Istanbul Convention on preventing and fighting domestic violence. Furthermore, Italian parliament passed a new law against gender-based violence last October, which strengthened penalties for perpetrators, made arrest for stalking and abuses mandatory, and made easier for the victims to find protection and free legal aid.

Yet, according to experts, legislation alone seems to be not enough, and more awareness campaigns towards men, and young male students especially, would be needed.

Almost seven million women between the ages of 16 and 70 were physically or sexually assaulted at least once in their life, a 2006 research carried out by Italian Institute for Statistics (ISTAT) stated.