Italy survey reveals shock attitudes to violence against women

Survey presented in Italian senate ahead of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

A new survey in Italy has revealed alarming attitudes among some Italians, both male and female, towards violence against women.

The findings of the survey, carried out by AstraRicerche with the support of Milan's municipal anti-violence network, were presented at the Italian senate on Tuesday, reports news agency ANSA.

Three in 10 of those surveyed do not consider it violence to "slap a partner in the face if she has flirted with another man": 40 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women think this way.

One in three Italians do not consider it violence to force a partner to have sexual intercourse if she does not feel like it: 4 out of 10 men and 3 out of 10 women believe this is the case.

One in four think that it cannot really be considered a form of violence "to comment on a physical abuse suffered by a woman by stating that it is less serious because her attitudes, her clothing or her appearance communicated that she was available".

Among those surveyed, 30 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women thought this way.

The results reveal "a patriarchal Italy, in which there is still much to do in terms of information and awareness" -  say the authors of the research - "It is a cultural question that is not the prerogative of men alone, but which also concerns women."

"The general picture that emerges" - explains AstraRicerche director Cosimo Finzi - "is that of an Italy still anchored on certain legacies, but aware that gender-based violence exists and is a priority issue to be addressed."

This is demonstrated, he says, "by the data on the perception of gender equality, defined as a 'condition in which women and men receive equal treatment, with equal ease of access to resources and opportunities, regardless of their gender': for only 18.8 per cent of respondents, gender equality in Italy is real, fully achieved."

Asked how to combat violence against women, most of those surveyed opted for the "cultural" solution of promoting knowledge and respect for women in schools.

Secondly they put the emphasis on improving public welfare: working hours, services, subsidies for kindergartens, recognition of domestic work; while for victims of violence respondents selected psychological support, activities on self-esteem and awareness, and support for reintegration into work and society.

Data released this week by the Italian central anti-crime directorate reveals that on average 89 women in Italy are victims of gender-based violence every day; in 62 per cent of cases the perpetrator is the person with whom they have or had a relationship.

Since the start of this year 109 women have been murdered in Italy - 8 per cent more than the same time period last year - with 63 of them killed at the hands of their partner or ex, reports ANSA.

The news comes as the Italian cabinet prepares to discuss a new package of measures designed to grant greater protection to women and increase penalties for men who are violent towards them.

Meanwhile, in a powerful symbolic gesture, Italy will light light up the Colosseum in red and project the names of femicide victims onto the Rome landmark tonight.