Her appointment will reinforce the government’s promised crackdown on ‘femicide', the killing of women because they are women.
According to Italy’s national statistics agency ISTAT, 120 women were murdered in such attacks in 2012, and a third of all Italian women are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives.
“The appointment of Isabella Rauti, chosen for her high level of professionalism and for her constant commitment to this issue, confirms the government’s commitment towards these serious problems,” Italian daily Il Messaggero reported Deputy Prime Minister Angelo Alfano as saying.
Rauti, aged 50, is a long-standing campaigner for women’s rights as well as president of the international non-profit organization Hands Off Women (HOW), which campaigns on issues relating to violence against women. She has also worked for the Italian ministry of Labour as an advisor on equality issues and at the ministry for Equal Opportunities as a head of department.
Yesterday, she described the current rate of female murders and domestic violence as "a real social emergency".
Ironically, just as she was being given her new role, her husband lost his post as the Mayor of Rome: he was routed by his centre-left rival, Ignazio Marino, in yesterday’s local elections.
This year, Italy has been rocked by a spate of female murders and reports of other violence against women. In early May, Laura Boldrini, Italy’s speaker of the lower house of parliament, called for a law to defend Italian women from misogynistic and violent acts.
Boldrini also claimed that she’d personally been the victim of multiple threats. Among these were photos sent to her which showed her head transposed on the bodies of women who were apparently being raped or strangled.
“I’m not afraid to open a battle-front,” she told La Repubblica newspaper at the time.
Earlier this year, Italy was appalled by the killing of 15-year-old Fabiana Luzzi, who was allegedly stabbed 20 times and burned alive by her boyfriend in the southern region of Calabria. Luzzi, who was the 41st woman in Italy killed by a man this year, would have turned 16 this Thursday.