Stirring Demand for an End to Violence Against Women in Italy

by Lucas Garcia
Gender-based violence

In the wake of the tragic and deeply unsettling murder of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin, allegedly at the hands of her resentful ex-boyfriend, a wave of outrage and protest has swept across Italy. Students from Turin to Palermo have united, pounding on classroom desks in unison, demanding an end to the relentless violence inflicted upon women in the country.

Giulia’s chilling disappearance came on the heels of another powerful development – the release of a blockbuster movie set in 1946, a time when divorce was not yet legal in Italy, and women had only just gained the right to vote. The film delves into the suffocating grip of patriarchy in Italian society, a theme that resonates painfully in the present day.

This convergence of real-life tragedy and fiction has ignited a nationwide call to action, urging Italy to protect its women and dismantle the deeply entrenched patriarchal mindsets that continue to plague society.

Giulia Cecchettin vanished after meeting her former boyfriend, Filippo Turetta, for a meal at a shopping mall. This meeting proved fateful, as Turetta, a year younger than Giulia, reportedly resented her academic achievements and feared her pursuit of personal and professional dreams. Tragedy struck just as preparations were underway to celebrate Giulia’s upcoming graduation, with red bows adorning the fence outside her family home and a restaurant reservation made for a joyous gathering of family and friends.

Her last communication was a text message to her older sister, Elena, seeking advice on shoe shopping for the ceremony. It marked the final contact her family would have with her.

Actress and director Paola Cortellesi succinctly captured the sentiment gripping Italy: “Giulia’s case shook all of Italy because, in her disappearance, all of Italy knew that shortly there would have been the discovery of a young woman slain at the hands of a man.” Tragically, statistics reveal that approximately every three days, a woman in Italy meets such a horrifying fate, often at the hands of a spouse, partner, or ex.

The harrowing saga of Giulia Cecchettin’s murder played out relentlessly on the nation’s news broadcasts for seven days before her body was discovered on November 18. Her lifeless form was found concealed beneath black plastic bags in a ditch near a lake in the foothills of the Alps. Surveillance cameras captured haunting glimpses of Turetta’s car as it journeyed from northern Italy to Austria and then Germany. Finally, on November 19, German police encountered Turetta in a car parked on a highway shoulder, out of fuel. His extradition to Italy for investigation on suspicion of murder was promptly ordered by a German court. Reports from a medical examiner detailed 26 wounds, presumably inflicted with a blade, on the young woman’s neck, arms, and legs.

Simultaneously, the movie “C’è ancora domani” (There’s still tomorrow) commanded the attention of audiences throughout Italy. Directed by Paola Cortellesi herself, the film struck a chord that transcended the ordinary, resonating deeply with viewers. Cortellesi, a renowned Italian comic actress, portrayed the lead role of Delia, an abused Roman wife yearning for a brighter future for her teenage daughter.

Daria Dicorpo, a middle-school teacher in Rome and a fan of the film, lamented the persistent issue of violence against women, stating, “Unfortunately, the theme of violence against women is always actual.” In the movie, women from all walks of life are compelled by their husbands to remain silent or, more bluntly, “shut their mouth.” Dicorpo emphasized the necessity of women raising their voices and celebrating the beauty of their gender.

Previously, silent torchlit marches had been the mode of protest against the scourge of violence against women in Italy. However, Elena Cecchettin, Giulia’s sister, proposed a different approach: making noise to honor her sister’s memory. She encouraged people to rattle their keys as a symbolic act of resistance.

In a poignant letter to Corriere della Sera daily, Elena Cecchettin challenged the portrayal of her sister’s alleged murderer as a “monster.” She asserted that these killers were not afflicted by illness but were the products of a deeply ingrained patriarchy. She aptly noted that femicide, the killing of women because they are women or because of the power men hold over them, is not a crime of passion but a crime of power.

In a significant legislative development, a bill aimed at protecting women through measures like increased electronic monitoring of men who stalk or threaten them passed with the final approval of lawmakers from the opposition 5-Star Movement. Their rhythmic desk-pounding signaled a united commitment to combating violence against women.

Director Cortellesi directed an impassioned plea to Italy’s two most influential female political figures, Premier Giorgia Meloni and Elly Schlein. She implored them to take action against women’s violence that transcended partisan politics. Schlein is actively advocating for bipartisan legislation mandating lessons on reciprocal respect between genders from primary grades, while Meloni’s education minister favors teaching about “relationships” in high schools.

The aftermath of Giulia Cecchettin’s tragic fate has witnessed a surge in calls to a national hotline for women fearing violence from men, doubling from approximately 200 to 400 calls daily. This includes concerned parents seeking help for their daughters.

Oria Gargano, who leads Be Free, an organization dedicated to combating violence, sex trafficking, and discrimination, emphasized the palpable fear that women in Italy now face.

Among the heartfelt messages left outside the Cecchettin family home, one poignant note read: “Forgive us for not having done enough to change this culture.”

In conclusion, Italy finds itself at a critical juncture where real-life tragedies and cinematic narratives converge to demand an end to violence against women and the dismantling of patriarchal structures that perpetuate this grave injustice. The nation is faced with the imperative of addressing this crisis and striving for a future where women can live free from fear and violence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gender-based violence

What led to the widespread protest against violence on women in Italy?

The protest gained momentum due to the tragic murder of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin and the release of a powerful film addressing gender-based violence.

What is the significance of the movie “C’è ancora domani”?

The film resonated deeply with audiences, shedding light on the suffocating influence of patriarchy in Italian society and inspiring conversations about women’s rights.

What actions have been taken to combat violence against women in Italy?

Lawmakers approved a bill with measures like increased electronic monitoring of men who stalk or threaten women. Activists also called for mandatory lessons on reciprocal respect between genders in schools.

How has the public responded to this movement?

Italy has seen a surge in calls to a national hotline for women fearing violence, reflecting heightened awareness and concern. People have also joined in making noise and symbolic gestures to show solidarity with the cause.

What is femicide, and why is it an issue in Italy?

Femicide refers to the killing of women because of their gender or the power men hold over them. Italy faces a persistent problem of femicide, with alarming statistics indicating frequent incidents, often involving spouses or partners.

How are Italian leaders and politicians addressing this issue?

Director Paola Cortellesi called upon prominent female political figures to take meaningful action against women’s violence beyond partisan politics, urging them to make substantial changes to protect women.

What message has Elena Cecchettin conveyed regarding her sister’s alleged murderer?

Elena Cecchettin challenged the portrayal of the alleged murderer as a “monster,” emphasizing that such individuals are not sick but the products of a deeply ingrained patriarchy. She stressed that femicide is a crime of power, not passion.

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Reader123 November 24, 2023 - 8:16 am

wow, this article really makes u think, its so sad 2 hear about violnce on women in italy, they shud do smthng abt it!

Activist2023 November 24, 2023 - 8:17 am

gr8 job coverin’ such an imp issue, hope the leaders rly step up n make chng happen

InfoSeeker55 November 24, 2023 - 9:01 am

appreciate the refs, helps dig deeper into the story

MovieBuff82 November 24, 2023 - 10:32 am

da movie sounds intrestin, gotta check it out, powerful storytelling!


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