Salvini: ‘Code red’ needed for reports of violence against women

Reports of stalking and attacks must be treated as a priority, says interior minister, as figures show Italy has one femicide every two days.

Salvini: ‘Code red’ needed for reports of violence against women
Women carry a banner with the slogan 'No to violence against women'. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Legislative reform is needed to tackle violence against women in Italy, Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said today, announcing that he was proposing the introduction of a new warning system under which reports of stalking and violence on women would be given “code red” priority status.

“At the earliest cabinet meeting possible I will propose the introduction of a code red for the [investigation of] allegations of stalking and violence against women, so that these reports don’t end up at the bottom of the pile in the files of magistrates,” Salvini said.

There have been shockingly high numbers of reported attacks on women including femicides – cases in which women are murdered, usually by their current or former partners – in Italy in recent years.

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“If there are detailed, documented and in-depth reports, they have the highest priority, because we’ve counted too many women wounded, attacked with acid and even killed,” said Salvini.

“Just as there is the code red in the emergency room, there must be a signal on cases of domestic violence and violence against women to intervene before it is too late,” explained the minister, confirming that this “will be ond of the forthcoming initiatives that the government and parliament will bring forward.”

A poster from the 'this is not love' campaign against domestic violence. Image: Italian State Police

His words come days after figures released by Italian police showed there was one femicide every two days in Italy between 2006 and 2016, a total of 1,740 and an average of 174 a year.

In 2017 some 77% of all murdered women were killed by their partners or exes; 112 out of a total of 145.One in three women between the ages of 16 and 70 has experienced physical or sexual abuse according to the figures, released by Italian police as part of a campaign against domestic violence called questo non e amore or ‘this is not love.’

The Italian media is full of reports of attacks on women and murders committed by “jealous” husbands or boyfriends.

The most recent reports from the past week include a man in Caserta who shot his wife and sister-in-law, injured his in-laws and then took his own life after his wife told him she wanted a divorce, and a man who admitted suffocating his wife after she told him she had met someone else.

Campaigners say attitudes must change in Italy, where cases of violent crimes committed against women by their partners or ex-partners are often portrayed in the media as tragic stories of love gone sour.

Almost 3.5 million women in Italy have been victims of stalking, according to data from national statistics agency Istat, but only 22 percent of those report the act or seek help.

Around one in three Italian women suffer abuse at some point in their life.



Man arrested after woman set on fire in Lucca dies

The ex-colleague of a 46-year-old woman who died after being set on fire on Tuesday has been arrested in the Tuscany city of Lucca.

Man arrested after woman set on fire in Lucca dies
The 46-year-old health worker died after being set on fire, allegedly by a former colleague. Photo: Luca Parioli

Vania Vannucchi, a health worker, suffered second and third degree burns across 90 percent of her body after being doused in a flammable liquid and set alight.

She died of her injuries at Pisa's Cisanello hospital on Wednesday morning.

Pasquale Russo, who works for a cooperative within the healthcare sector, has been arrested for attempted murder, La Repubblica reported.

Before being sedated, Vannucchi managed to repeatedly tell paramedics that Russo, a married father-of-three, was her alleged assailant.

She was attacked behind a shed in an area of Lucca where a former hospital, now a centre for medical tests, was based.

Her screams were heard by some of the centre’s staff, who rushed to her aid and found her lying on the ground with her dress on fire. They immediately raised the alarm and tried to put the fire out with buckets of water.

Russo, who was found at home by police washing his work clothes and with two wounds on his arm, denies the charges.

In June, a 27-year-old security worker admitted burning his ex-girlfriend, 21-year-old Sara Pietrantonio, to death.

Vincenzo Paduano told investigators that he couldn't accept that she'd abandoned him.

Di Pietrantonio became the 55th “femicide” victim in Italy between January and June – three more were murdered by either a spouse, boyfriend or ex within the weeks that followed.

Last year, 128 women were victims of femicide, the year before there were 136. Thousands more have suffered domestic abuse or are stalked by men.