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Italy clamps down on violence against women

Move comes amid outrage and debate in Italy after murder of Giulia Cecchettin.

The Italian senate on Wednesday unanimously backed new measures to clamp down on violence against women and to strengthen measures already in place.

The bill, which was given unanimous support by the lower house two weeks ago, comes amid a wave of public anger in Italy over the murder of 22-year-old student Giulia Cecchettin.

The new measures will modify the codice rosso law, which gives priority to cases of domestic and gender-based violence, to make the legislation more effective.

The law includes a greater emphasis on prevention and warnings, new restraining orders and increased surveillance on men guilty of domestic violence, giving priority to court cases involving violence against women, and boosting the emergency gender violence hotline 1522.

The bill was presented by the Italian minister for family, birth rates and equal opportunities, Eugenia Roccella, who said the new law "in many cases can make the difference between life and death."

The measures also include a campaign in schools to "address the issue of sexism, machismo and psychological and physical violence against women," announced education minister Giuseppe Valditara, who said it is "absolutely unacceptable that women have to suffer harassment, humiliation and violence on a daily basis."

The move comes as demonstrations take place across the country following the murder of engineering student Cecchettin whose body was found on Saturday in a ravine in Italy's northern Friuli Venezia Giulia region.

Her body, wrapped in plastic, showed signs of a brutal murder, with multiple, deep knife wounds to the head and neck.

Cecchettin's former boyfriend Filippo Turetta, 22, was arrested as a suspect on Sunday, in Germany, after eight days on the run.

He is expected to be extradited to Italy within days, news agency ANSA reports.

On Tuesday schools across Italy held a minute's silence for Cecchettin, with many students in Rome choosing to rage against gender-based violence and femicide with a minute of noise.

A major demonstration is planned in Rome on Saturday afternoon, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Organised by the Non Una di Meno (Not One Less), the rally is scheduled to begin at the Circus Maximus at 14.30 before making its way to Piazza S. Giovanni.

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