Italy’s 296 anti-violence centres unknown to most victims

Facilities provide support, legal aid and safe housing

Italy’s 296 anti-violence centres unknown to most victims

Rome, March 20 - Few women victims of violence turn to one of Italy's 296 anti-violence centres for help, the head of the emergency department for sexual and domestic violence at Milan's Policlinico hospital, Alessandra Kustermann, said on Tuesday amid fresh alarm over 'femicide' in the country after two women were killed in separate cases on Monday. According to the latest figures from the interior ministry, 25 woman have been killed in Italy this year and 10 of those cases were femicide. "Essentially women do not know about them and, if necessary, they tend to turn to the forces of law and order, a lawyer or the hospital emergency department," Kustermann explained. The centres provide psychological support and free legal assistance for women victims of violence as well as directing victims to safe housing. In addition, they help gather evidence to support a police report. "This is a fundamental role given that many reports are shelved because the victim is unable to provide proof of the abuse," Kustermann said. "When they arrive at our centre only 10% of the women intend to report the violence suffered, equal to the figure at national level. However, after receiving assistance for roughly a year the figure rises to 28%," she added. The number of centres in Italy has tripled since 2013, when 188 centres were recorded, in line with an increase in funding. The northern region of Lombardy comes top with 50, followed by 48 in southern Campania but just 7 in Lazio. The freephone number 1522 can be contacted round the clock for help and support, including details of anti-violence centres locally. On Monday a young woman was gunned down, allegedly by the partner she was separating from, outside a primary school near Naples shortly after dropping off her children. He committed suicide nearby. Meanwhile a jealous partner stabbed to death a young mother in Sicily in a separate case.

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