By Helen Farrell on October 24, 2013—
“The decree on ‘femicide’ has become law. On October 13, the Italian Senate approved the new measures against domestic violence, doing so in record time with the backing of political parties Popolo della Libertà, Partito Democratico and Scelta Civica. Groups MoVimento 5 Stelle, Lega Nord and Sinistra Ecologia Libertà all abstained from voting.
The new legislation responds to increased public outrage about violence to women. Recent statistics indicate that 81 women were killed in Italy in the first half of 2013, 75 percent by somebody close to them. In 2012, a United Nations’ report labelled domestic abuse in Italy as the ‘most pervasive form of violence’ in the country, affecting over 30 percent of Italian women. The report also noted that almost 90 percent of women abused in Italy did not report the incident to the police.
The new legislation provides for harsher sentencing and precautionary measures. Mandatory arrests have been introduced for domestic violence and stalking offences. Police may issue urgent restraining orders upon authorization from the public prosecutor’s office, forcing aggressors to leave their family home and stay away from places frequented by the victim. Electronic monitoring may be enforced on aggressors.
Amendments provide for harsher sentencing for violence that occurs within a relationship, regardless of marital status. Aggravating circumstances are considered to exist when violence is perpetrated in front of children or against pregnant women.
‘The measures will provide a “radical” new approach to the issue of femicide,’ commented Prime Minister Enrico Letta. ‘We want to send a strong signal of radical change on the subject.’
Five of the eleven articles of the new law directly address violence against women; the other six deal with public order, civil protection and social unrest.”
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