Laura, Marinella and Carla. Three different names that share the same story of beatings, abuse, violence, and in the end heinous crimes. They entered our homes through TV news and the images we saw forced us to meditate on a subject that usually comes to the fore only when yet another crime is committed: femicide. This issue has not really taken root in public opinion since it cannot be connected to any political view. It does not have a rainbow flag to wave in the Italian squares and politicians do not line up to take a stand on it.
Laura Finocchiaro was strangled the night between January 30 and February 1 in her home in Catania. According to the investigators, her former partner Vincenzo Di Mauro is responsible for her death. She had already sued him for threats and injuries at the end of their stormy and violent living together. Marinella Pellegrini was murdered by her husband Paul Piraccini after a violent fight last February 1 in Brescia. After the brutal murder, the man called her brother: “I’ve killed Marinella and now I’m going to kill myself.” He got into his car and entered the motorway to Venice against traffic, crashing into a truck. Carla Ilene Caiazzo, a beautician from Pozzuoli, was soaked in alcohol and set on fire by her boyfriend Paolo Pietropaolo during a fight. She is currently struggling between life and death at the Santa Maria delle Grazie hospital in Pozzuoli. 45% of the surface of her body is burned. The doctors have been able to bring little Julia Pia into this world: at the time of the attack Carla was eight months pregnant.
Three horror stories with the same dramatic end. Yet, these are not the first stories of the year concerning violence against women. In fact, on January 2 Ragusa police found a woman who was segregated at home by her partner. He beat her up and did not let her leave; on January 3 a woman of Citta di Castello was stabbed by her son ten times, whereas in Turin on January 5 a woman almost died because because of her husband’s violence. On January 9 a woman died in Florence, strangled by a man she had had sex with and who killed and robbed her afterwards; On January 15 and 16 two grandmothers were killed by their grandchildren in Mestre and Sassari. On January 27 a woman was killed in the street in Cetraro by her former brother in law, and on January 30 a woman was seriously injured by her husband who had had killed their children aged 8 and 13 before attacking her. There are tens of cases of violence, abuse, enslavement and murder attempts at home on this list and often we do not even learn about them.
The figures spread by the Interior Ministry are alarming. In 2015 in Italy happened 411 homicides and in 31.3% of the cases the victims were women. Not even numbers concerning physical and sexual violence are lower: victims often die in silence, after years of abuse and neglect. Besides the number of deaths there are also 6,945 persecutory acts, 3,086 rapes and 6,154 cases of beatings. Moreover, according to a Istat report, at least 6,788,000 women have suffered some form of physical or sexual violence in their life; in more than half the cases, rape was committed by a (former) partner.
Going out with friends, walking down the street, a nice outfit, talking to your neighbors, greeting a friend. Trivial actions that are part of everyday life, which are perceived by the aggressor as a challenge to his ego and his alleged masculinity. Yet, living your life, hoping for a better future where no husband or boyfriend will beat you up every day, and hoping to wake up alive and without bruises on your body cannot be considered an affront, an insult to someone’s pride; a slap in the face of those who need to beat a woman in order to feel manly. Femicide is just a word, but the arrogance that characterizes the way in which so many men relate to women is “culture”, or better, a subculture. And we have to keep denouncing it vehemently.