(By Sandra Cordon) Rome, August 8 - Punishment, prevention and protection of women from violence is the goal of a bill the Italian government passed Thursday to try to stem a growing national problem. The dozen measures in the new decree target such crimes as stalking of women, domestic violence, and provide protection of immigrant women fleeing violence in their homeland. The measures will provide a "radical" new approach to the issue of femicide, said Premier Enrico Letta. "At the heart of this decree, we want to send a strong signal of radical change on the subject". The new measures come at a time of rising violence against women, and an increased outcry in society. Recent statistics found that 81 women were killed in Italy in the first half of this year - fully 75% of whom were slain by family members or intimates. The joint report by the Italian social economic research group EURES and ANSA also found that between 2000 and 2012, 2,200 women were murdered in Italy, an average of 171 per year - about one every other day. The new bill aims to prevent instances of crime and punish perpetrators while protecting women from violence, said Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano. "We have today approved a series of rules with three objectives: to prevent gender-based violence, punish...and protect the victims," said Alfano, who is also interior minister. That includes mandatory arrest for stalking and family abuse, with the abusive spouse subject to immediate removal from the home where there is any risk of violence. A residence permit will also be granted to foreign women fleeing violence at home, added Alfano. Penalties increase in cases of violence against a pregnant woman, or in the presence of underaged youth and children, he said. And women are to be kept informed during justice processes that involve their abuser, while women will be offered free legal aid when they are victims of crime. Too often, women felt they had to endure violence to remain in their homes with their children, but this bill aims to change that, said Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri. Italians have been shocked by some instances in which public figures appeared to blame the victim for some crimes against women. Last Christmas, an Italian priest sparked controversy when he said women were partly to blame for the violence they face. Father Piero Corsi saw his duties suspended for several weeks as the parish priest of San Terenzo di Lerici in the region of La Spezia in northwestern Italy after he posted a pre-Christmas flyer on the church bulletin board, suggesting that women provoked violence against them. His leaflet, entitled "Women and Femicide - Healthy self-criticism. How often do they provoke?" caused an uproar. As part of the government's effort to fight violence against women, the Italian Senate unanimously approved the 2011 Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence earlier this summer. 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 widespread threats and grotesque photomontages on the Internet. 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.