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Italy unveils new bill to combat violence against women

Italian cabinet gives green light to new plans to tackle domestic abuse and violence against women.

Italy's council of ministers has approved a package of new measures granting greater protection to women and increasing penalties for men who are violent towards them.

The news was announced on Friday afternoon by seven government ministers - all women - during a press conference at Palazzo Chigi, in the presence of premier Mario Draghi who sat in the front row.

The new bill, which seeks to address gaps in Italy's existing legislation tackling domestic abuse and violence against women, is centred around the pillars of "protection" and "prevention", said justice minister Marta Cartabia.

Among the most important changes is the possibility for magistrates to proceed ex officio in certain specific cases and the prospect of immediate arrest for threats, violence and stalking.

The bill also puts greater emphasis on electronic bracelets for men who mistreat or threaten women, with imprisonment for abusers who tamper with the device.

The legislation also states that penalties for beatings, injuries, threats, trespassing and damage are increased "if the crime is committed in the context of domestic violence by a person already warned". 

Among the new measures there will be "immediate economic help in the investigation phase", said interior minister Luciana Lamorgese, who added that women often do not report violence "because they are in a difficult economic situation."

The bill, which must now be approved by parliament, comes two years after Italy introduced the Codice Rosso, or code red law, to give priority to cases of domestic and gender-based violence.

The ministers who drew up the legislation are Luciana Lamorgese (interior), Marta Cartabia (justice), Mariastella Gelmini (regional affairs), Elena Bonetti (family and equal opportunities), Mara Carfagna (south), Fabiana Dadone (youth policies) and Erika Stefani (disabilities).

The measures demonstrate the "commitment of the entire government, with great conviction, in combating male violence against women", said Minister Bonetti, adding: "All women victims of violence must know that they are not alone."

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