538,000 Italian women subjected to abuse in last five years


In the last five years, 538,000 women were the victims of physical or sexual abuse by their partners in Italy, according to the country’s national statistics agency Instat, revealing the harsh reality of domestic violence. In Italy, 142 women were killed in acts of domestic violence in 2018, up 0.7% from a year earlier, according to Italian research institute Eures, a number that those working to help these women say is disturbingly consistent. Italian President Sergio Mattarella said yesterday that violence against women continues to be a “public emergency” and that “awareness of its seriousness must continue to grow,” as reported by the Italian news agency ANSA.

On the annual U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a Milan hospital is displaying X-rays from victims of domestic violence who have passed through the doors of the facility seeking help. The display at San Carlo Borromeo hospital was the idea of trauma surgeon Maria Grazia Vantadori, 59, who wanted to show the stark reality of what she has seen in her 26 years of practice. Although women arrive at the hospital bloodied, sometimes cut, burned, or with acid thrown in their faces, Vantadori opted for the more sterile images of X-rays, deeming them to be more powerful.

The United Nations estimates that 87,000 women were killed globally in 2017, over half of them either by their spouse or partner or their own family. France still has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the EU, with activists reporting the deaths of more than 130 women this year alone, yet the French government seems unable to turn the tide. The number amounts to at least 116 since the beginning of the year, while activists report 137 deaths, according to Agence France-Press (AFP). Last year, official figures revealed the deaths of 121 women lay at the hands of their partners. A 2014 EU survey of 42,000 women across all 28 member states found that 26% of French female respondents said they had been abused by a partner since the age of 15, either physically or sexually. The number is 4 percentage points above the EU average and the sixth-highest among EU nations. Half that number reported experiencing such abuse in Spain, which implemented a series of legal and educational measures in 2004 that slashed its domestic violence rates.

French President Emmanuel Macron made it a campaign pledge to tackle the issue two years ago. However, the government proved ineffective in preventing the violence, with the rates of incidences of violence having failed to diminish. Conversations about domestic violence have also ratcheted up in neighboring Germany, where activists are demanding that the term “femicide” be used to describe such killings. More than 114,000 women in Germany faced domestic violence, threats or coercion from their husbands, partners or ex-partners last year, according to an analysis by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). A total of 122 women were killed by their partner or ex-partner in the country.