Gender-based violence rife in Italy says reprot. Image from Freepix

Human Rights expert criticises Italy over gender-based violence


A European human rights expert criticised Italy’s management of gender-based violence and discrimination against women in a scathing report. Dunja Mijatovic, commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe, highlighted various concerns, including the revictimisation of victims by Italian courts and police, reduced access to abortion services for women, and Italy’s last-place ranking in EU gender equality in the workplace.

Mijatovic’s report, following a visit to Italy in June, also addressed issues such as the treatment of migrants and press freedom. However, the focus on women’s rights comes amid a national outcry over the brutal murder of Giulia Cecchettin, a 22-year-old bioengineering student.

The report emphasised Italy’s shortcomings in combating gender-based violence, citing the low prosecution and conviction rates for such cases. It called for improved training for law enforcement, prosecution, and judicial authorities to address sexism and prejudice.

“There is an urgent need to combat sexism and prejudice against women among law enforcement, prosecution and judicial authorities, which contribute toward the low prosecution and conviction rates in cases of violence against women and impunity for perpetrators,” the report said.

The Italian government responded, stating that the report was incomplete and incorrect in some cases, highlighting ongoing prevention initiatives and funding, along with provisions in a five-year strategic plan for gender equality.

How does Italy rank for Gender Equality?

Italy, ranking 13th in the EU Gender Equality Index, faces challenges such as regional disparities in domestic violence services and a widening gender pay gap. The report attributed these issues to “entrenched stereotypes”, negative media portrayals, and “sexist hate speech”.

On sexual and reproductive health, the report criticised uneven access to abortion in Italy, citing bureaucratic obstacles, regional disparities, and conscientious objection by doctors.

The Italian government countered, pointing to the representation of women in public office, including Premier Giorgia Meloni.

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