FEATURES » Report says 21% of Italian Women are victims of abuse

Report says 21% of Italian Women are victims of abuse

According to Istat, the Italian statistics bureau, twenty-one percent of Italian women (more than 4.5 million) have been victims of abuses including degrading and humiliating sexual acts, unwanted relationships, violence, abuse or serious physical harassment such as rape or attempted rape.

More than one million have been victims of the most severe crimes: 653,000 women were raped, while 746,000 have suffered attempted rape. In 13.6 percent of the cases, the perpetrators of gender violence on women between the ages of 16 and 70 are partners and former partners. About a third of the female population have suffered a form of physical or sexual violence in their lives.

Gender violence is a broad and widespread phenomenon, which seriously affects daily life also in its psychological aspect.

According to Istat, Psychological abuse affects four out of 10 women: 40.4 percent (over 8.3 million women). Acts of psychological violence include, for example, devaluation or submission. This 40.4 percent, more than 8.3 million, were verbally abused so severely that it caused serious damage to the development of their personalities; one in four has difficulty concentrating and suffers from memory loss. The asymmetry of power between men and women, still present in Italian society, can lead to severe devaluation, limitation, or physical, psychological and economic control.

“Economic violence” within couples plays a role. It affects 4.6 percent of women in a country where mostly males are employed. In Italy in 2015, the level of employment among women aged between 20 and 64 was 50.6 percent; among men, it was 70.6 percent. Furthermore, the pay gap between men and women was 16.3 percent.

On March 8, Istat also released data on women victims of stalking (16.1 percent). Women suffered from harassing messages to pressing demands on dates or unwanted attention in the most severe forms. 9.3 percent were victims of abusive comments on social networks or unauthorized dissemination of photos and videos online; 13 percent have suffered direct threats or threats to children or relatives; 75.7 percent of women victims of stalking were followed, spied on or blackmailed.

According to experts, prevention in schools and more control over TV sexism would help to face up to the problem.

Giulia Lombardo

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