Italy: Femicide and the media

The Research Group on Femicide of the non-profit association Casa delle donne per non subire violenza ONLUS, based in Bologna (Italy), has published its Annual Report on Femicide in the Italian context. The Group examines all the press articles related to femicide on a daily scale and, after various analysis, tries to list all those cases that may be labelled as “femicides”. In 2017, 112 cases have been listed as such; however, it is worth reminding that the data is not absolute, since there is a conspicuous lack of official data related to this phenomenon on a national level.

Most of the cases of femicide committed in Italy have been carried out by a former or current partner of the victim or by a member of her family, while only a few cases can be imputed to a stranger who represents the escape goat of a certain kind of press and public opinion that does not reflect reality as it is.

The researchers want to underline the lack of attention of the press when it comes to cover those cases of femicides in which the victim is a prostitute, alongside the concept of newsworthiness that does not see a sex worker as the perfect victim to hit the cover page. In 2017, the cases of murdered prostitutes reported by the press have been 6, even though in decrease if compared to 2016, the dominant tendency is still the one that links them to crimes connected to international or organized crime associations instead of seeing them as gender-related killings.

The highest collection of femicides can be spotted in the age slot between 36 and 60, even though the significant increase of the number of victims aged >75 should not be underestimated; figures that lead us to the topic of elder abuse in Italy, which is extremely worrying nowadays. Additionally, it is not hard to notice that the research puts a strong focus on the type of relationship that exists between the victim and her killer: in most of the cases the perpetrator of the crime is the current partner of the victim, followed by the former partner and thirdly, by a member of the family. Furthermore, the victim is usually killed at her place, at her partner’s or in the apartment the couple used to share.

The motive of the killing can be found, in almost every case, as one of the following: the man kills the woman who wants to put an end to their love story, who has criticised his behaviour towards her, who has cheated on him, who is ill, or who has economic troubles, who does not love him, who sexually rejected him, who challenges him making the situation “impossible to bare” and so on. These categories easily overlap, making even clearer the gender inequalities inherited from the cultural stereotypes that shape the male and female archetypes. The roots of these troubling relationships can be found in the lack of acknowledgment and respect towards gender equality when it comes to the man-women dichotomy followed by the disheartening belief that the woman who takes distance from the behavioural model socially imposed on her and who escapes the control of her male counterpart deserves to die. Despite the various awareness campaigns and projects in the press field, the headings of the articles as well as the articles themselves continue to present to the audience madness or insane passion as the real motives of the killings, justifying the perpetrators of the crimes who immediately get stripped out of any responsibility. In the meantime, women suffer a double victimization: they get killed twice… once by the perpetrator and the second time on the media level, since everyone tries to find vices in their behaviour implying that they “looked for it”, that they were not able to understand how risky the situation was, that it was them who did not succeed in protecting themselves.

From the analysis of the followed behaviour of the perpetrator after the crime, suicide or the attempt of it, is the most common way out with a percentage of 26,49%, followed by an official confession or turn in to the police. Only in 15% of the cases (17/112), the perpetrator had been already reported (with or without an official denounce) to the authorities; in 2 of the cited cases he had been already charged for previous crimes or killings.

The highest number of femicides has happened in Lombardia, a northern Italian region, with a total amount of 17 cases, an extremely worrying figure despite its decrease of 3 units if compared to 2016.

The Report also includes two articles related to femicide written by Antonella Crichigno “Femicide Worldwide: the case of Mexico” and Veronica Bacci Boniverto “MeToo Movement: a viral message without voice in the Italian context”. To conclude, a detailed list of the victims can be found in the final pages of the Report, with the names of these women in order to preserve their identities beyond the mere statistics they tragically happen to be a part of.


written by Antonella Crichigno, WAVE Youth Ambassador from Italy



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