The date of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women also marks the beginning of the ’16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence’ leading up to World Human Rights Day on 10 December each year.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an annual event established by the UN assembly in 1999, which chose this date in memory of the sacrifice of the sisters Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, who were killed by the agents of dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. The UN called on Governments, International Organisations and NGOs to organise activities on this day to raise awareness of the importance of non-violence towards women.
In many countries, such as Italy, the colour displayed on this day is red and red shoes have become the symbol against femicide and violence against women in general being lined up in squares or public places to represent the victims of violence and femicide. The idea came from an installation by Mexican artist Elina Chauvet, Zapatos Rojos, created in 2009 in a square in Ciudad Juarez, and inspired by the murder of her sister by her husband. The installation was subsequently replicated in many countries around the world, including Italy. The campaign in Italy is carried out in particular by the Anti-Violence Centre and Women’s Associations committed to Violence against Women.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN ITALY
The theme of domestic violence (DV) has also been brought back to the cinema in Italy, just in these days by a masterful film by director Paola Cortellesi, ‘C’è ancora Domani’, which through its portrayal of the female condition in Italy in 1946, immediately after the Second World War, makes us realise that, unfortunately, many of those situations are still present in the lives of women today.
A study presented a few days ago in Milan found that in Italy today four out of ten women do not have a current account in their name. And among women with low education, among those living in the South or in inland or suburban areas, the percentage is ten out of ten, which means none at all.
Not having a bank account in your own name means being dependent on someone else even to buy a dress or a pair of slippers. It means not being able to make any decision, not even the fundamental one of leaving a man who uses violence against you and says ‘you are good for nothing, you are of no use, you are not capable’.
The situation is even more dangerous and alarming with the new generations who are often not educated to respect and manage their emotions. In Italy, unlike many other European countries, there are no education programmes in schools on feelings and relationships or on sex education. For this reason, there is a dangerous form of regression among young people to patriarchal models and prevarication that we hoped were now outdated and that have nothing to do with love and the relationship that is established between two people, thanks to the distorted images and models offered by the web and social networks.
It is therefore very important that every year many events are organised by institutions, associations and feminist groups on the 25th November to emphasise and underline the need for a cultural paradigm shift as well as to make as many people as possible aware of the places where they can find help and assistance in the event of violence.
MARCHES IN ITALY
In 2023, the day will be celebrated in most Italian cities with marches, demonstrations and various events that are currently being prepared. Here are some of those that will take place in Parma city and nationwide:
- Fondazione Onda https://fondazioneonda.it/it/ -thanks to Bollini Rosa Hospitals and anti-violence Centres- will dedicate the week from 22 November to 28 November to women with the aim of supporting those who are victims of violence and encouraging them to break the silence, providing concrete tools and contacts to turn to for help.
- The University of Parma is developing seven projects financed by the One Committee of Guarantee (CUG) for Equal Opportunities. The projects started as early as March this year with the definition “Not only 25 November“, innovative awareness-raising initiatives and actions against violence to women, on the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of gender, on the promotion of equal opportunities and empowerment.
- At the University of Parma, there will also be a Conference on Protection of Women Victims of Violence, supported by many associations and female clubs, which will mainly discuss secondary victimisation and the social and legislative instruments to tackle it.
- The Local Health Authority AUSL in cooperation with AOU Parma University Hospital and the Anti–Violence Centre ACAV organised various Info-points throughout the city and the Parma province to provide assistance and information to citizens.
- The University Hospital and the AUSL of Parma will also provide all their employees with a ‘white ribbon’ to wear on 25 November to show their support for victims of domestic violence (DV)
- The Prefecture of Parma, as Government Territorial Office, has launched a campaign to raise awareness and knowledge of the 1522 telephone number to which victims of violence can turn for help: the indication to call 1522 appears in these days, for example, on bread bags or on the receipt issued by pharmacies.
- There are several training activities in city schools to raise sensibility of the students and train them to respect and NOT to use violence in personal relationships.
- In addition, AUSL and AOU of Parma will inaugurate, in a city square, a red bench that has become a symbol and testimony of the fight against violence against women. During the entire month the original wooden manufactured “Red Bench” by Stati Generali delle Donne, FIDAPA BPW and AIDM will be gifted to authorities and leaders of the main association fighting against Violence
- ANCI, the national association of which all Italian municipalities are members, collects on its website the events that are organised each year by the various municipalities. This list will soon be available on the ANCI website: https://www.anci.it/
WHAT HAVE RED SHOES AND A RED BENCH TO DO WITH THE FIGHT AGAINST VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN ITALY?
What have red shoes and a red bench to do with the fight against violence against women in Italy? They serve as reminder that women are still at high risk becoming a victim of domestic violence (DV) and that the goal to eliminate DV has not been reached yet. DV is present during the entire year and not “only on 25 November”!
MORE INFORMATION ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
If you are interested to learn more about domestic violence in the health sector, please visit our European training platform on domestic violence.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Antonella Vezzani MD, Anesthesiologist, former Head of the Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit at Parma University Hospital, is the National President of the Italian Association of Women Doctors (AIDM), a scientific society committed to the application and dissemination of sex/gender sensitive medicine. AIDM is a partner of the VIPROM project. She is a known expert in the field of sex/gender sensitive medicine and gender-based violence. She is now in charge of the Equality Advisor Office of the Province of Parma for the promotion and implementation of the principles of equal opportunities and against gender discrimination in the world of work.
Dr. Emilia Solinas, MD PhD works as an interventional cardiologist and she is head of the committee of guarantee and equal opportunities at the Parma University Hospital in Italy. She is an expert in psycho-neuro-endocrino-immunology and is also currently specialising in functional psychotherapy. She has been working in the field of sex and gender sensitive medicine and medical education for many years, having published several scientific paper about spontaneous coronary artery dissections and sex/gender differences in percutaneous coronary angioplasties and coronary diseases. She is now leading the Italian VIPROM team.
Nicoletta Paci has graduated in languages and has a Master’s degree in Gender Studies and Policies. She collaborates with the VIPROM Project as a consultant. She worked for more than ten years as an Equal Opportunities councillor for the Parma City Council dealing with citizenship rights, promotion of equality, contrasting gender-based violence for both women and LGBTQI+ people. Currently, she is also a consultant for gender equality certification paths within private companies and public bodies. As a freelancer, she works with various associations focused on Employment Rights, Equal Opportunities in access to work and career progression. She is very active in social solidarity, too.
This project has received co-funding from the European Union’s CERV-2022-DAPHNE programme under grant agreement No. 101095828.
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