On Tuesday, Italy’s lower house of parliament unanimously approved a European treaty to end violence against women while the country mourned a 15-year-old victim of intimate partner violence.
The lower house of parliament ratified the Council of Europe’s Istanbul convention, which would create and reinforce legal measures to prevent and prosecute gender-based violence. The treaty now goes before Italy’s upper parliament, or Senate, for final ratification. If approved, Italy would become the fifth nation to ratify the treaty, which needs at least 10 nations to ratify before taking effect. It is expected that the Senate will also approve ratification in light of recent horrific attacks on women in the country.
One such case is the story of Fabiana Luzzi, a 15 year old student who was brutally murdered by her 17-year-old boyfriend last week. The boyfriend stabbed Fabiana 20 times and then set her on fire while she was still alive. Her remains were discovered the next day. That same week a 35 year old woman in a different part of the country was stabbed to death by a former partner and a 50 year old woman was shot in the head by her husband, who then committed suicide. Fabiana’s funeral, which was attended by thousands of supporters, was held the same day as the vote.
Josefa Idem, the Italian Equal Opportunities Minister, was one of the people in attendance at the funeral. She told reporters, “Faced with Fabiana’s death, I reaffirm the commitment of all the government and my ministry to make the fight against gender-based violence a key point of this legislature… I feel the need to ask forgiveness from her and from all women killed by the hand of those who abuse the word love. The state must be more effective in its commitment [and] be even closer to the victims.”
According to the women’s organization Casa delle Donne, there have been 51 gender-based murders in Italy already this year. However, Telefono Rosa, a domestic violence support group, estimates there have been 38 murders. Both organizations cite a lack of official statistics as a major barrier to seeing the true extent of gender-based violence in Italy. In addition, underreporting presents a major barrier, with a 2012 UN report finding that 90% of instances of rape and abuse in Italy were not reported.