Mercoledì, 17 Ottobre 2018
ROME

MPs rush back from holidays to push 'femicide' law

English
© ANSA

(By Elisa Cecchi).
Rome, August 20 - Italy's MPs on Tuesday cut short
their vacations and met for the presentation of a government
bill approved earlier this month to stem a growing national
problem - violence against women.
Only 104 of the House's 630 lawmakers however attended the
summer session to start discussing the so-called 'femicide'
decree and assign it to the commissions which will have to
examine the measure.
The 12-point decree sets harsher penalties for those found
guilty of domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking. The
measure became effective mid August but needs to be ratified by
parliament.
Lower House Speaker Laura Boldrini said that combating
crimes against women requires "intervention on a cultural level,
starting from school". "Repression of the phenomenon alone is
not sufficient", Boldrini said during the House's debate.
The bill, which also offers greater victim protection in
particular to shield migrant women escaping violence, came as
awareness is rising in Italy over high levels of violence
against women, prompting the government to stiffen penalties.
"The fact that Italian women will be more protected as of
August 14 must make us all proud", the Minister for Relations
with Parliament Dario Franceschini told the Lower House on
Tuesday, "without distinction between government and parliament,
majority and opposition" coalitions.
Over 80 women have been killed in Italy so far this year,
mostly by exes, according to an unofficial death toll kept by
national media. Many of the victims had reported stalking or
harassment episodes to police.
Though Italy has one of the lowest murder rates for both
sexes in Europe a recent spate of killings of women at the hands
of partners or exes has sparked calls for more action.
The measures will provide a "radical" new approach to the
issue of femicide, said Premier Enrico Letta after the
government approved the bill on August 8.
"At the heart of this decree, we want to send a strong
signal of radical change on the subject," he said.
Recent surveys found that 75% of women killed in Italy in
the first half of this year were slain by family members or
partners.
The joint report by the Italian social economic research
group EURES and ANSA also found that 2,200 women were murdered
in Italy between 2000 and 2012, an average of 171 per year -
about one every other day.
The new bill includes mandatory arrest for stalking and
family abuse, with the abusive spouse subject to immediate
removal from the home if there is any risk of violence.
A residence permit will also be granted to foreign women
fleeing violence at home. Penalties increase in cases of
violence against a pregnant woman, or in the presence of minors.
Under the bill, women will also be kept informed during
legal proceedings that involve their abuser and can be offered
free legal aid.
On Tuesday the organization representing Italy's criminal
lawyers - the Unione Camere Penali (UCP) - criticized the bill
as "extravagant and irrational" and expressed the hope that
parliament "will be able to gain back rationality and
equilibrium" when converting it into law.
UCP in particular criticized harsher penalties for abuse
perpetrators in the presence of minors, a measure slammed as
"irrational in pairing two heterogeneous events" and the fact
that legal action cannot be withdrawn once it has been filed by
abuse or stalking victims.

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