Violence is colorblind

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The recent events in Cologne have vigorously have reignited the debate on violence against women. They have also reopened the theater of political manipulation which never loses an opportunity to stick labels and seek more advantageous positions in consensus rankings. Violence against women is something that cannot and should not have political colors or ideological reminiscences; violence goes beyond, it is a violation of human rights and, as such, it must be prevented and obstructed on all levels and in every country. As far as the serious events which happened at the end of the year in Germany are concerned, obviously it is up to the German judiciary to find the culprits and ascertain the underlying reasons of what happened and impose fair and exemplary punishment to those who are responsible for it.

It is important for us, women from the CISL syndicate, to repeat that violence must be condemned anywhere and anytime, no matter what its source is, without distinction, aware of the fact that the cultural side of the phenomenon, to greater or lesser extent depending on the country, is still the main component. We must fight it, therefore, not only through legal action but also from a cultural point of view.

Therefore, what happened in Cologne has nothing to do, as our Secretary General Anna Maria Furlani has pointed out ¬ with the phenomenon of migration itself, on which our solidarity hospitality have to stay firm for those who flee from wars and conflicts. The same is true for compliance with the rules of a civil and peaceful coexistence. This concept has been explained also by Pope Francis when he has talked about the validity of hospitality only if it proceeds in both directions, for those who are welcomed and whose “duty is respecting the values, traditions and laws of the community that hosts them”, and for the host country, “called to appreciate what every immigrant can offer for the benefit of the whole community”.

Any culture must step back in front of the inviolable rights of the person and the right to health. All this can be achieved only through dialogue, information and knowledge. Some traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, besides being a crime, put the health of many women and girls at risk. The same applies to the phenomenon of the so-called “child brides” that denies the right to childhood to thousands of children who are catapulted, at best, in something – it is appropriate to say it – too big for their age.

Similarly, domestic violence which affects us more closely is not a private matter to be resolved at home – as many young people still regard it (see our previous report “Hot Pink 2”) but negation of a person dignity, the result of a distorted view of reality. Schools, educational agencies and the media can do a lot from this point of view. We, women from the Coordination, will not lower our guard level. It is our intention to strengthen our action seeking further dialogue and exchange with other cultures, in particular by intercepting and involving immigrant women, women activists from individual communities and from the world of women associations – as it was recalled also by Furlan – to carry on together the idea of respect for women and their body.

Certainly, none of us wants to pass off violence against women as  ethnic violence, let alone claiming cultural superiority. I would like to conclude with a phrase from the German writer Helga Schneider: “violence against women is old as the world itself, but today we would have liked to hope that an advanced, civil, and democratic society would not harbor the stories of abuse, murders and rapes.” We still want to hope this and that is the reason why we are working together on initiatives we are going to undertake in the near future as the National Coordination.

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