Rome

Italy ratifies Istanbul Convention

Tool for prevention and protection from violence against women

Italy ratifies Istanbul Convention

(By Kate Carlisle) Rome, June 19 - The Italian Senate unanimously approved the 2011 Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence on Wednesday. Before the vote, which makes the measure that passed in the Lower House on June 4 operative, MPs paused for a minute of silence in memory of women victims of violence. "We dedicate this vote to all women victims of violence. Before moving on to this vote, which is so important for our parliamentary history, let's remember all women and girls who in life and death have suffered physical or psychological violence," Deputy Speaker Linda Lanzillotta said. Italy has been plagued by a spate of violent crimes against women and murders by partners, ex-boyfriends and husbands, as well as at the hands of strangers, say human rights groups. "Sexual violence causes more fatalities among women in Italy than cancer and is most often committed by a spouse or former partner," Maria Gabriella Carnieri Moscatelli, president of the Italian emergency hotline Telefono Rosa said in December. A week before the vote in the House, a brutal stabbing and burning murder of 16-year-old Fabiana Luzzi by her boyfriend in the southern Italian town of Corigliano Calabro shocked the nation. Of all the women murdered in Italy between 2000 and 2011, a total of 1,459, or 70.8%, were killed by a partner, an ex-partner or a lover - a number that also remains largely consistent year by year - said the study entitled "Femicide in Italy in the last decade," published in December. The Istanbul Convention describes violence against women as a form of discrimination and as a violation of human rights. It also defines crimes against women that are punishable, including psychological violence, stalking, physical violence, sexual violence and rape, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, forced abortion, forced sterilization and sexual harassment. The Istanbul Convention gained political momentum in Italy after House Speaker Laura Boldrini revealed that since she had been elected to lead the Chamber earlier this year, she had become the target of a widespread threats and grotesque photomontages on the Internet. Wednesday's approval makes Italy the fifth country to actually ratify the Council of Europe convention. So far, only four other countries have ratified the treaty, and only one of those, Portugal, is a member of the European Union. The other countries that have ratified the Istanbul Convention are EU candidate countries Turkey and Montenegro, and EU potential candidate country Albania. For the treaty enter into force, it must be approved by the governments of at least 10 countries, and at least eight European Council member countries. "The unanimous ratification of the Convention by the Senate, as happened three weeks ago in the House, is reason for satisfaction and pride. It is a tangible sign of parliament's dedication to a theme as crucial as violence against women," Boldrini said. Humanitarian organization Terre des Hommes, which together with ANSA produced a 2012 report on violence against girls that was delivered to ex-premier Mario Monti's office, applauded the ratification. "The next step, however, is for appropriate funds to be dedicated to prevention and the protection of victims," the organization said.

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