Chapter 58: Violence against women in Italy

Today, November 25, concerned people are commemorating the world day against violence against women–La Giornata mondiale contro la violenza sulle donne.

The headline in one major Italian daily announced: Femminicidio, cento vittime nel 2012: una donna uccisa ogni due giorni. A woman in Italy is murdered every other day, usually by a supposed loved one. In 2011, it was one murder every three days!

The latest victim was only 17 years old. She was stabbed to death. The killer was her ex-fiance.

Eighty-seven percent of Italian women who called Telefono Rosa, a woman’s protection group, admitted being a victim of violence in their own homes.

Maria Teresa Manente of Differenza donna explained that deadly violence against women has increased significantly since the 1990s. The article presents data but leaves the reader puzzled as to the reasons for increased violence against women. They are cultural as well as social.

It’s ironic that I was watching Giuseppe Tornatore’s film Malena while researching violence against women. Malena, a war widow, is a beautiful Sicilian woman who is harassed and later punished by her fellow cittadini. Malena never receives the honors granted to widows, especially war widows. Throughout the film, Malena faces daily verbal abuse–puttana, diavola, she’s called. Later, she is forced to collaborate with occupying German troops since she has no family or friends in her city. When the Germans leave, she is beaten–her hair chopped off, not by men, but by other women. In the end, Malena’s husband returns from the war, unharmed. He and Malena leave town, their heads held high–a vaffanculo to misogynist Casteluco’, Tornatore’s fictitious name for the Sicilian city.

Paradoxically, in Italian culture, la donna is an iconic figure–la vergine Maria, la mamma, la nonna. But what about la moglie, la fidanzata, l’amica?



About growingupcalabrese

Professor of French and Italian at San Diego State University
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