To talk about violence against women is a risky business. Particularly if you are a straight man. Whatever you say can be used against you. And in any case, whatever I will say, I will say something wrong. So, just take these words as part of a personal reflection over the subject, without any pretense — for once — to be conclusive.
There is a huge debate, now-a-days, on Italian newspapers, about women being killed by men. They also created a new word to describe the phenomena, as if homicide was too gender biased. The word is “femminicidio“, something like “femalecide“. I ignore if in English a similar word exists at all.
Now, this is an interesting topic for a country where honor killings were (are) widely practiced in most of the southern regions. Daughters killed by her own fathers, sisters by their brothers, wives by their husbands. A country whose state religion used to burn witches, by the way.
Free from fear
The government issued a new decree, today, trying to address the issue. A newspaper announcing the new set of rules posted this picture, on the first page: a woman with a sign painted on her face “Free from fear” (Libera dalla Paura). Are really new laws increasing the prison time for violent men setting women free from fear?
Retreating the accusations
One of the main issues addressed by this new law is the following: a person, in Italy, is prosecutable for personal injury only if the victim files a police report. Until now, if the victim — at a later stage — decided to revoke the report, the prosecutor had to close the case. So it happened very often that women victims of violence by hand of their boyfriends and husbands, were first reporting them, then forgiving and retreating their accusations.
From today, this will not be possible anymore. If you file the report, then the crime will be prosecuted. Does this free women from fear? On one side, on my opinion, there will be less women filing the first report. Then, they will eventually play the accusations down in court, for the easy game of any defense lawyer. I guess, not so many more men will be sentenced.
But the main issue, here, is another one. There is no law saving you. Europe is not Saudi Arabia or some other Islamic Republic. Women are not property of their male guardians. A man slaps you once, take the door and go. That is the only solution. You are safe if you take your own responsibilities. No special law, no increased years of prison will prevent your boyfriend or husband from beating you. Because, if it happens a second time (and it always happen a second time), it is just your fault. People do not change. A violent man will test you once, if it goes, he will go on.
Law cannot save people from themselves. And this is true also for women.
I am not talking about children
Here I was talking about adult women, who have chosen to spend their time with a violent man. When it comes to children it is another story. Children have no defense. How often, though, the mother assists — without reacting — to the violence of the father toward their daughters and sons? Those mothers are not victims. They are guilty as the man beating the children. They should both go to prison. Because if you are not defending your children until your own death, then you are an accessory.
- Violence is not always perpetrated by men, though.
Read a story of child abuse I have witnessed.
- A story on honor killing: read about Fadime Sahindal.