Italy cracks down on violence against women

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"We promised we would do it, we did it," Prime Minister Enrico Letta said today. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
18:14 CEST+02:00
Italy adopted a draft law on Thursday to crack down on violence against women in the wake of an escalating trend of attacks by husbands and lovers.

"We promised we would do it, we did it," Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Twitter after the government adopted the draft bill which is expected to be quickly validated by parliament.

In the first six months of this year, 81 women were murdered in so-called femicide attacks in Italy, in 75 percent of cases by their partners or a member of their family, according to Italy's biggest trade union, the CGIL.

In 2012, 124 women were killed, and a third of all women in Italy are victims at some point of domestic violence according to a United Nations report, which cites data from the national statistics agency (ISTAT).

The bill is "a strong signal of a radical change" and the launch of "a relentless fight against the sad phenomenon of femicide," Letta said at a press conference following its adoption.

Measures include the obligatory arrest of those caught in the act of stalking or physically abusing victims.

Once a complaint has been lodged against a suspect, it can no longer be withdrawn and a police investigation will be launched.

Violent husbands or partners will be evicted from the family home and victims will be kept constantly up to date on their attacker's legal status - including being informed if aggressors behind bars are released from jail.

Italy's speaker of the lower house of parliament Laura Boldrini in May called for a law to defend women from misogynist and violent acts after receiving hundreds of menacing messages on the Internet, including photos altered to show her head on the bodies of women being raped.

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In June, Italy become the fifth Council of Europe member state to ratify the 2011 Istanbul Convention, a treaty combating violence against women. 

The treaty has been signed by 25 Council of Europe member states but has so far only been ratified by Turkey, Albania, Portugal, Montenegro and now Italy.

It needs to be ratified by 10 countries - eight of which need to be members of the Council of Europe - for it to take effect.

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