Italian schools to tackle ‘machismo and sexism’ after student's murder

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Italian schools to tackle ‘machismo and sexism’ after student's murder
A mural shows figures with the names of women who have been killed by men in Italy to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Italian schools are “to address the issue of sexism, machismo and psychological and physical violence against women,” Education Minister Giuseppe Valditara said on Wednesday, as part of a new push to prevent femicide.


"A big mobilisation is underway, for the first time in Italy," Valditara said as he presented the plan to the Senate.

"School is to deal with the cultural phenomenon, that prevailing male chauvinism, that manifests itself in so many situations in daily life, at school, at work, in the street.”

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had earlier this week announced new measures were on the way to tackle Italy’s problem with violence against women after the murder of 22-year-old student Giulia Cecchettin shocked the country and dominated headlines.

Cecchettin’s ex-boyfriend, suspected of killing her and dumping her body near a lake in northern Italy, is to be extradited from Germany where he was arrested on Saturday after fleeing Italy in his car.

"Every single woman killed because she is 'guilty' of being free is an aberration that cannot be tolerated and that pushes me to continue on the path taken to stop this barbarism," said Meloni, who is Italy's first woman prime minister but does not describe herself as a feminist.

Cecchettin’s murder was the latest in a string of high-profile cases of femicide in Italy.

READ ALSO: Almost half of Italian women report suffering sexual harassment

There have been 102 homicides with female victims in Italy so far this year, 82 of whom were killed by family members or current or former partners, according to interior ministry data.

This compares with 51 killed by their partner or ex partner in the same period of 2022, and around 70 in both 2021 and 2020.

A demonstrator holds a collage of pictures of victims of femicide reading "Not one more" during a rally condemning violence against women in downtown Rome. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP)


Italy’s anti-violence and stalking hotline 1522 said calls had more than doubled in the last two days following reports of Cecchettin’s murder, with many calls from teenagers as well as parents concerned about their daughters’ safety.

Womens' rights 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, with the killers described as "jealous".

READ ALSO: 11 statistics that show the state of gender equality in Italy

The education project, which will initially be open to schools on a voluntary basis, will incorporate civic education from elementary to high school, including a discussion group project targeting high school students, Valditara said.

Teachers are also being asked to “introduce the culture of respect” in all school activities, he added.

The project “took its cue from events last summer, in Palermo and Caivano, from a strong desire to say 'enough is enough' to the residual macho culture that continues to pollute the country," said Valditara, referring to two incidents of gang rape in southern Italy allegedly perpetrated by minors.

"It is unacceptable that women should suffer harassment, violence, up to the tragic events of these last few days," he said.


"Students will be made aware of the criminal consequences that their behavior can have; too often there is a total lack of knowledge of the penal code," the minister said.

The Senate on Wednesday also unanimously approved a bill drafted by Family and Equal Opportunities and Family Minister Eugenia Roccella which she said would strengthen restraining orders and introduce heightened surveillance on men found guilty of gender-based violence.

The measures aim to allow authorities to "act promptly and effectively" to “interrupt the cycle of violence," Roccella said.

"Patriarchy certainly exists, but the protagonists of change must be men, while we must give women the tools to recognize violence and defend themselves," Roccella said at a press conference in the Senate

"Violence is a symptom of the inability to accept women's freedom," she added.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also