Final report on national campaign action
Legal and policy measures
The Italian Government has undertaken different initiatives, at legislative level, the most important are:
- the law n. 66/1996 has represented a significant innovation against sexual violence and a legislative act for women’s protection. This law defines violence against women as a crime against personal freedom, modifying the previous definition of sexual violence as a crime against public moral and common sense;
- the law n. 154/2001 entitled “Measures against violence in familiar relations” deals with the separation of the violent relative from the family, through civil or penal legal actions. Before this measure there was any specific provisions to avoid the persistence of violent behaviour of the aggressive relative in the family previous to the penal process. Law n.154/2001 has established that the judge can impose the immediate separation of the violent relative from the places frequented by the family (for example the workplace, the children’s school), if his/her behaviour causes serious prejudice to the physical or moral integrity or to the personal freedom of the family, when the fact is not liable of persecution. This law introduces a change of perspective in facing violence against women, because it deals with the demand of the victims to stay in their own homes and not to leave their own habits of life.
In order to combat the increase of domestic violence and sex crimes, one year ago the Department for Rights and Equal Opportunities presented a very important draft bill: AC. 2169 on the “"Measures of prevention and repression of the crimes against the person within the family, sexual orientation, gender and every other cause of discrimination". At the moment this draft bill has still to be discussed by the national Parliament and it is not yet a law. The main aims of the draft bill are to promote policies of prevention against sexual, familiar and domestic violence and elaborate more severe punishments for domestic violence crimes. The draft bill has introduced, for the first time in Italy, the classification of “stalking” as a crime (a legal term for a pattern of offensive behaviour involving repeated harassment or other forms of invasion of a person's privacy in a manner that causes fear to its target), and it has proposed measures of pre-trial detention to stop the crime and protect victim.
In order to better understand the phenomenon of the violence against women, the 2007 Financial Law has established a National Observatory on Violence against Women, with the scope to create a link between the local administrations, the Centres for Assistance to Persons who suffer from Violence and the field experts. The main aim of the Observatory are to realize awareness campaign and to monitor the public administrations activities on sexual violence. The 2007 Financial law has allocated a yearly financing of 3 millions euros for three years for the Observatory activities.
At last the Department for Rights and Equal Opportunities has approved in December 13th 2007 a decree that create a “Permanent Forum against grave persecutions and the violence against women” with the aim to improve the dialogue between institutions and civil society on gender violence and the protection of victims. The forum will be composed by several institutions and for the first time also by Centre anti-violence and representatives of women organisations. The Forum will play an advisory role for the Ministry for Rights and Equal Opportunities formulating opinions and proposals on violence against women.
Support and protection of victims
The Italian Government has elaborated several important projects to support and protect the victims of violence.
The creation of a National Public Utility Number (1522) for women victims of violence, in 2006, is an other sign of the will to eliminate violence. The institution of this kind of structure, has provided the first psychological and juridical assistance for the victims of violence, through the presence of experts in collaboration with many telephonic centres of first assistance. This telephonic service also helps victims to find the public or private structure able to assist them.
Another important program was: the “URBAN CITY NETWORK AGAINST VIOLENCE”.
As far as the national programmes concerns, it is important to underline the organization and realization of a programme called “National network against violence among Urban Italy cities” by the Department for Equal Opportunities in 1997. This programme has initially involved 8 cities (Venice as leader, Rome, Naples, Foggia,, Reggio Calabria, Lecce, Catania and Palermo), then it has been enlarged to other 8 cities in 2001 (Genova, Trieste, Cagliari, Bari, Salerno, Siracusa, Cosenza and Catanzaro) and finally to other 9 (Torino, Carrara, Pescara, Caserta, Mola di Bari, Brindisi, Taranto, Crotone, Misterbianco), for the current number of 25 cities. This network represents a part of the communitarian Programme “Urban Italy 1994-1999”, an initiative create for disadvantaged urban areas in European cities, financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The main goal of this project has been investigating the social, cultural and institutional context in which the problem of violence against women is developing. Thanks to this National network, it has been possible to identify the perception of violence and its stereotypes in different national places. The activities of the pilot project have been organized in:
- Analysis of the perception of violence against women in different areas and monitoring of services and institutions involved in this phenomenon;
- On-line publication of analysis system, data and information about violence;
- Collection and exchange of information and experiences among different operators working in this Network through the organization of local and national seminaries;
- Creation of database and construction of a website for the National Network against Violence to classify and organize all results of the researches.
The Italian government has also promoted a system action to realize a National Network against violence, after the conclusion of the actions promoted in the 25 cities integrated in the Urban project. The essential purpose of the system action is the organization of a structure to protect and assist women victims of violence. This intervention program has realized the following objectives:
- the census of operations and local programs in favor of women victims of violence;
- a specific program to create a collaboration among social services, health and police structures to remove any forms of violence;
- the involvement of the Centres anti-violence;
- the support to the services against violence and the creation of new services to increase their distribution in the national territory;
- the organization of a detailed program to support courses of education for public services operators working in first aid, social and psychiatric services;
- a National Observatory to collect and share all data and experiences about violence;
- the promotion of initiatives to create awareness in the citizens of the problem of violence, like media campaigns, seminaries and conferences;
- the monitoring of public and private services operating at national level in the field of fight against violence, through the use of Urban methodology;
- the synchronization of public and private services which deal with problems concerning intra and extra familiar violence against women.
Another important document is the second national report “Anti-violence” network of the Urban –Italy cities entitled “Silence and words” presented in June 2007.
This report analyses in depth the phenomenon of the violence against women collecting several important data from each city participating to the Urban project. The report is very important because it permits to compare the different local approach of every cities about violence against women and it represents a fundamental tool for an exchange of good practices.
Finally it is important to mention another project called ARIANNA.
The project main aims are to create a technical/scientific support for the development of the national network on violence against women, to improve the Help-lines “1522” and enlarge the “Anti-violence network” to other Italian cities, through:
- the awareness and support of the Regions and Ministers;
- the exchange of good practices;
- activities of monitoring.
The Department for Rights and Equal Opportunities has promoted a specific investigation to study and analyze the problem of violence and to distinguish the different forms of violence, collaborating with the National Statistic Institute (ISTAT).
The project is organized in two main parts:
1-The first part aims to study the dimension of sexual crimes (sexual harassment, sexual blackmail at work and sexual violence) in women experience;
2-The second part aims to analyze the sense of social security of women and a more specific research about every forms of violence.
The National Statistic Institute has adopted a specific method to carry out this type of investigation, achieving some important objectives:
- the detailed definition of the phenomenon;
- the creation of specific indicators to estimate the problem of violence;
- the identification of victims of violence and the establishment of samples;
- the organization of qualitative studies to value any aspect or manifestation of violence against women;
- the administration of the sample investigation of 2004 about violence to verify methodologies and tools of research;
- the organization of a final investigation, at the end of 2005, using a representative sample of women between 16 and 70 years old.
The first data resulting from the pilot investigation, called “Social security”, have shown the persistence of violence against women and the need to manage a detailed strategy to resolve this problem, trough the organization of specific programs and interventions.
However the study illustrates a regular improvement of the situation compare to previous investigations (1997-1998): the number of women victims of sexual violence has decreased from 24% to 19,7%, at the same time as the attempted rapes (from 3,6% to 2,6%), the obscene calls (from 18,5% to 9,4%) and the sexual blackmails (from 1,8% to 0,4%).
In 2006 ISTAT presented the results of a new survey, fully dedicated, for the first time, to physical and sexual violence against women. The sample includes 25 thousand women aged between 16 and 70, telephone interviewed, widespread in all the country, from January to October 2006. The survey represents the result of a partnership between ISTAT (the Institute that carried on the survey) and the Ministry for the Rights and the Equal Opportunities that provided financial support with funds from the National Operative Program “Safety” and ‘system actions’ of the European Social Fund.
The survey on women’s safety, gives a measure of three different types of violence against women: physical, sexual and psychological violence, inside the family (from partner or ex-partner) and outside family (from an unknown person, acquaintances, a friend, a colleague, a family friend, a relative etc..). Physical violence is ranked from the less the most serious one: the threat to be physically hit, to be pushed, grabbed or yanked, knocked with an object, slapped, kicked, punched or bitten, victim of a attempted strangulation, of a choking, burning and threats with weapons. As sexual violence, all situations in which women are forced to do or suffer sexual acts of different nature, against their own will are considered: rape, attempted rape, sexual physical harassment, sexual intercourses with a third party, undesired sexual intercourses, suffered for fear of consequences, degrading and humiliating sexual activities. Verbal harassment, shadowing, acts of exhibitionism and indecent telephone calls are not detected. Psychological violence includes denigration, behavior control, segregation strategies, intimidations, heavy financial restraint suffered by partner’s side.
The main results of the survey are the following
-6 million 743 thousand women, between 16 and 70 years of age, are estimated as victims of physical or sexual violence during their lifetime (31,9% of women in the considered age group). 5 million women were victims of sexual violence (23,7%), 3 million 961 thousand women were victims of physical violence acts (18,8%). About 1 million women were victims of rapes or attempted rapes (4,8%). 14,3% of women in a current relationship or in a previous one, were victims of at least one episode of physical or sexual violence by their partner; considering only women with an ex-partner, percentage rises to 17,3%. 24,7% of women, were victims of violence acts by another man. While physical violence is more frequently perpetrated by partners (12% against 9,8%), the opposite happens for sexual violence (6,1% against 20,4%), and this is mainly due to sexual harassment. The difference, indeed, is almost negligible as far as rapes and attempted rapes are concerned.
In the last 12 months, 1 million 150 thousand women (5,4%) were victims of violence. The highest rates are observed among young women between 16 and 24 (16,3%) and between 25 and 34 (7,9%). 3,5% of women were victims of sexual violence and 2,7% of physical violence. 0,3%, 74 thousand women, were victims of rapes or attempted rapes. Domestic violence affected 2,4% of women, while violence outside the domestic context reached 3,4% of them.
In almost all cases, violence is not reported to the police. The hidden part of violence is very big and it reaches 96% of violence acts by non-partners and 93% by partners. Even in the case of rapes almost all of them (91,6%) are not reported to the police. The share of women not talking with anyone about the suffered violence is substantial (33,9% among violence at the hands of a partner and 24% by a non-partner).
Women are victims of different forms of violence. A third of the victims suffer from both physical and sexual violence. The majority of the victims suffer from several violence episodes. Repeated violence occurs more frequently when the abuser is a partner than when it is a non-partner (67,1% against 52,9%). Among all the physical forms of investigated violence, the most frequent are being pushed, yanked and grabbed, having an arm twisted or her own hair pulled (56,7%), being threatened to be hit (52,0%), slapped, kicked or bitten (36,1%). It follows the use or the threat to use a pistol or knives (8,1%) or the attempted strangulation or choking and burning (5,3%). Among all the forms of sexual violence, the most spread are physical harassment, that’s to say being sexually touched against one’s own will (79,5%), undesired sexual intercourses felt as violence (19,0%), attempted rape (14,0%), rape (9,6%) and degrading and humiliating sexual intercourses (6,1%).
Partners are responsible for the most part of rapes. 21% of victims suffered violence both in and outside their family, 22,6% only by the partner, 56,4% only by men other than their partner. Partners are responsible for the highest share among all forms of physical violence investigated. Partners are responsible, in a larger extent, also for some kind of sexual violence such as rape and undesired sexual intercourses, suffered for fear of consequences. 69,7% of rapes, indeed, is perpetrated by partners, 17,4% by an acquaintance. Only in the 6,2% of the cases the abuser is an unknown person. The closer the relationship between perpetrator and victim, the highest the risk to suffer from a rape, instead of an attempt of rape. Unknown persons are, above all, authors of physical sexual harassment, followed by acquaintances, colleagues and friends. Unknown persons are perpetrators of rapes, only in 0,9% of the cases and perpetrators of attempted rapes in 3,6% of the cases, against respectively 11,4% and 9,1% among the partners.
Women with a partner who is violent also outside the family, are generally more affected by domestic violence. A higher percentage of women report that they have been victim of violence among those with a current partner who is physically violent outside the family (35,6% against 6,5%) or verbally violent outside the family (25,7% against 5,3%); that berates them or that is not considering them in daily life (violence rate of 35,9% against 5,7%); that drinks until he is drunk (18,7% against 6,4%) in particular if he gets drunk every day (38,6%) or one or more times per week (38,3%); that had his father using to beat his wife (30% against 6%) or that in his turn suffered from abuses by his own parents. The share of men who use violence against their partners is 30% among those who watched violence acts perpetrated in their family of origin, 34,8% among those who were victims of violence by their father, 42,4% among men who suffered violence by their mothers and 6% among those who were not victims or were not present to acts of violence in their family of origin.
Domestic violence acts are for the most part serious. 34,5% of women reported that they were victims of a very serious violence and 29,7% of them declared it was sufficiently serious. 21,3% of women felt her own life was in danger when the violence was perpetrated; but only 18,2% of them consider the suffered domestic violence as a crime. 44% consider it as something wrong and 36% only something that happened. Even in case of rape or attempted rape, only 26,5% of women considered it as a crime. 27,2% of women suffered from injuries as consequence of the violence. These injuries in 24,1% of cases were so serious that it was necessary to seek for medical treatments. Women who were victims of several episodes of violence perpetrated by their partners, in almost half of the cases, suffered, as consequences of the violence, a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, a sensation of impotence (44,9%), sleep disorders (41,5%), anxiety (37,4%), depression (35,1%), difficulty in concentration (24,3%), recurrent pains in different parts of their body (18,5%), difficulty in managing children (14,3%), suicide fantasies and self-punishment (12,3%). Violence perpetrated by a non-partner is perceived as less serious in comparison with that perpetrated by the partner.
Two million 77 thousand women were stalked by partners at the moment of separation or after they split up and were particularly frightened by this (18,8%).Among women who suffered stalking, in particular, 68,5% of partners tried to talk to the woman in a nagging way, against her will, 61,8% repeatedly asked for an appointment to meet her, 57% was waiting for her outside home or at school or at work place, 55,4% sent messages, phone calls, e-mail, mails or undesired presents, 40,8% followed her or spied her and 11% adopted other kind of strategies. Almost 50% of women who were victims of physical or sexual violence from a previous partner, has suffered stalking by the same partner, that’s to say 937 thousand women. One million 139 thousand women, on the contrary, were only victims of stalking with neither physical nor sexual violence.
7 million 134 thousand women were or are victims of psychological violence2: the most widespread forms are: isolation and attempted isolation (46,7%), control (40,7%), financial violence (30,7%) and berating (23,8%), followed by intimidations (7,8%).
43,2% of women were victims of psychological violence by their current partner; among them, 3 million 477 thousand have always or often suffered this kind of violence (21,1%). 6 million 92 thousand women were only victims of psychological violence by their current partner (36,9% of women living as couple). 1 million 42 thousand women were also victims of physical or sexual violence, 90,5% among the victims of physical or sexual violence.
1 million 400 thousand women were victims of sexual violence before they were 16, 6,6% of women aged 16-70.
Perpetrators of violence are different and most of them known by the victim. Only in 24,8% of cases, violence was perpetrated by an unknown person. A fourth of women reported that the perpetrator was an acquaintance (24,7%), another fourth a relative (23,8%), 9,7% a family friend, 5,3% a friend of the woman herself. Among relatives, perpetrators are more frequently uncles. Silence has been the most frequent answer. 53% of women declared they kept silence about the event.
690 thousand women were victims of repeated violence by partners and they had children at the moment of the violence. 62,4% declared that their own children were present during one or more episodes of violence. In 19,6% of the cases women reported that the children were present rarely, in 20,2% of the cases sometimes, and in 22,6% of the cases often present.
The data which have been collected for the Questionnaire on “Administrative data on Victims of Domestic violence in the Council of Europe Member States” shows that the Italian approach in this field is just sufficient and it needs to be improved. The problem is that in the Italian juridical system, domestic violence is not defined as a specific crime and there is not a disposition which describes this criminal behaviour. The definition of domestic violence set up by the Council of Europe establishes several kinds of violence as economic, physical and sexual violence perpetrated by spouses, partners and cohabitants. This definition is quite wide and in Italy it can correspond to several and different crimes, so it becomes very difficult to identify the crime of domestic violence in collecting administrative data procedures. This lack of a specific definition of domestic violence as a crime and the problem that the victims rarely report the violence they suffer to the police can create some problems, especially for the Police and the Juridical administrations which encounter big obstacles to record data in that sense. Public/private health care institutions and Emergency calls agencies encounter less difficulties in recording administrative data on domestic violence because these institutions give more attention to the victims and the clinical aspect of the phenomenon of violence than the crime and the legal aspect. Social services usually record all the data with a good and effective system and they use this information for analysis and research purposes in order to improve the conditions of the victim of violence and to stop the growth of this “invisible phenomenon”.
The awareness campaign on the theme of violence against women promoted by the Department for Rights and Equal Opportunities is designed for the 2006 Day Against Violence Against Women.
The main focus of the campaign is expressed in the slogan “it was the champagne cap” written under an image of a woman with a “black eye” (trauma due to harassment). It shows that very often women try to hide violence. The campaign aims to change this point of view and it affirms that “stop violence is easier than hide it” and “violence against women has not excuses”. The Campaign has been promoted in TV, radio and newspapers and it promotes also the national help-line “1522” to support women victim of violence.
National plans of action
The strategic national policies are:
- the prevention and fight against gender sexual violence involving adults, children, people of different sexual orientation, disables and migrants; '
-Identification of various forms of violence, assessment of their social, economic and cultural development of the mechanisms of information and raising awareness of this issue and its complexity;
- Protecting victims through regulatory interventions if necessary;
- Awareness and information on equality and the fight against the discrimination.
Priority is given to the actions of the various public and private stakeholders at the local level with regard to the prevention and combating violence in three areas of intervention:
- Measures to raise awareness and prevention against sexual violence and gender discrimination;
- Measures for the protection of victims which will provide for the benefit of children through a network of services with specialized personnel and able to address problems both immediate problems of medium and long term;
- Measures for social and economic reintegration of victims through a network of services with specialized personnel and able to address immediate and medium and long term obstacles.
The decree of the Minister for Human Rights and Equal Opportunities of 16th May 2007 has yearly allocated 3,000000 euros for the "National Fund against sexual violence and gender".
The main goal is to encourage a planned approach and a system for the prevention and the contrast of all forms of sexual violence and the protection and reintegration of victims. The peculiar complexities of gender-based violence is expressed in its various manifestations, in the different levels of vulnerability and territorial and social diversity. This complexity needs stronger collaboration between institutional and private actors involved: improving the exchange, consultation and integration as strategic elements to make effective and efficient intervention. It will be encouraged actions to develop regional networks among various public and private actors for the definition of strategies, multidisciplinary and integrated actions and interventions, in the field of conflict, violence prevention and protection and reintegration of victims.
In particular, it will be involved public and private social organizations such as health services, social services, educational services, legal and psychological consultants, private and social associations in order to permit the creation and /or development/qualification of sustainable networks of prevention and contrast to all forms of violence against women, children, people of different sexual orientation, taking into account the particularly vulnerable groups such as the disabled, elderly, migrants and women belonging to ethnic minorities, etc.
It will be implemented also the following specific objectives:
- Strengthen regional capacity through the collection, analysis, evaluation and exchange of experiences and best practices;
- Develop and test methodological tools, training and evaluation to support innovative and develop a network of regional players of various cultures and organizational professional;
- Awareness, inform and specialise the various territorial actors involved t;
- Develop unified and standardized procedures and evaluation of programmes;
The National Action Plan on gender violence is funded by the National Fund against sexual violence and gender, established by the 2007 Financial law (Article 1, paragraph 1261). The Fund is intended also to establish a National Observatory on violence against women. The 2008 budget provides for an additional fund of 20,000 euros for the development and the implementation of the National Plan.
National Plans of Action
Furthermore, please identify whether your government has adopted and/or implemented a National Plan of Action to combat violence against women, including domestic violence during the course of the Council of Europe Campaign.
Assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign
The Task Force will partly base its assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign to combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence on the following indicators. Please respond by ticking on the boxes.
1. Is any and every act of violence against women criminalised in your country?
YES x NO q
In Italy every act of violence against women is criminalized, but it is necessary to explain how the Italian criminal system works.
Other important provisions regarding violence against women are:
2. Is violence committed by a partner or former partner punished more severely than violence among strangers (eg. gender based violence as such or the abuse of power will be considered an aggravating circumstance)?
YES q NO x
The article 609ter of the Criminal Code establishes only the aggravating circumstances for the crime of sexual violence when the perpetrator is a relative.
3. Are victims enabled to seek justice in a human manner (eg. specialised courts on domestic violence, specialised units within the police, the public prosecutor or the judiciary)?
YES x NO q
In Italy the victims are allowed to seek justice in a human manner, even if there are not specialised courts on domestic violence. The victims can seek justice both to the criminal and civil judges in respect of their privacy. The victim of violence can ask to the civil judge to warrant the violent partner with an eviction in order to leave the house, without needing to fill a criminal charge. While in the Criminal proceedings, the judge can order also the imprisonment and condemn the perpetrator to support the family financially.
4. Does a national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?
YES x NO q
5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your member state? 3
YES x NO q
In Italy there are approximately 79 Centres Against Violence which are well distributed in the whole national territory. The main aims of the Centres are to give an immediate help to women victim of violence like legal assistance and psychological support and other important services like “help job seekers” and “S.O.S Rape Help-line”. All the Centres offer the possibility to find a shelter in a house for victims of violence in huge cases. In Italy there are several houses for women victims of violence: there are often secret places that host victims of all kinds of violence, included domestic violence for a maximum of 6 months.
6. Is administrative data being collected on victims of domestic violence?
YES x NO q
The data which have been collected for the Questionnaire on “Administrative data on Victims of Domestic violence in the Council of Europe Member States” show that the Italian approach in this field is just sufficient and it needs to be improved. The problem is that in the Italian juridical system, domestic violence is not defined as a specific crime and there is not a disposition which describes this criminal behaviour. The definition of domestic violence set up by the Council of Europe establishes several kinds of violence as economic, physical and sexual violence perpetrated by spouses, partners and cohabitants. This definition is quite wide and in Italy it can correspond to several and different crimes, so it becomes very difficult to identify the crime of domestic violence in collecting administrative data procedures. This lack of a specific definition of domestic violence as a crime and the problem that the victims rarely report the violence they suffer to the police can create some problems, especially for the Police and the Juridical administrations which encounter big obstacles to record data in that sense. Public/private health care institutions and Emergency calls agencies encounter less difficulties in recording administrative data on domestic violence because these institutions give more attention to the victims and the clinical aspect of the phenomenon of violence than the crime and the legal aspect. Social services usually record all the data with a good and effective system and they use this information for analysis and research purposes in order to improve the conditions of the victim of violence and to stop the growth of this “invisible phenomenon”.
7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?
YES x NO q
Note 1 Violence and abuses against women inside and outside family, ISTAT,2006 ,pages 2,5
Note http://www.istat.it/salastampa/comunicati/non_calendario/20070221_00/ (document also available in English)
Note 2 Psychological violence is collected through a set of 20 questions, grouped in 5 prevalent typology: isolation, control, financial violence, depreciation, intimidations. Limiting contacts with the provenance family or with friends, forbidding to study and to work, all are acts to isolate the woman. Controlling the woman by the partner means influencing her dressing or hairstyle, or following, spying her, or being angry if she speaks with another man. As financial violence is meant to forbid knowing the household income, or using her own money. To depreciate the woman means humiliating, offending or slurring her also in front of other people, criticizing her appearance and her managing home and children. Intimidations are a very sort of blackmail, threatening to destroy her objects, to hurt children or to other loved people or to pets, and also threatening to suicide.
Note 3 The Blueprint of the Council of Europe Campaign recommends a ratio for one place in a woman’s shelter per 7.500 inhabitants.