Femicide holds Italy in its grip

30-11-2023

Southern Europe

Aart Heering, RD

A photo shows a placard reading 'For Giulia Cecchettin and all the sisters killed before her - We will burn everything' placed outside the University of Milan during a demonstration following the killing of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin, in Milan. Photo AFP, Piero Cruciatti

The gruesome murder of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin has gripped Italy for three weeks. She was killed by her ex-boyfriend, exemplifying the dozens of Italian women who fall victim to their aggressive partners every year.

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets last week to protest against domestic violence. As new details about Cecchettin's murder came out every day, outrage also increased. "Femminicidio", femicide, is a daily theme in the media and in politics.

The trigger is the murder of 22-year-old Cecchettin. On Saturday, 11 November, she was shopping with her ex, Filippo Turetta, for her graduation party. She was due to receive her degree as a biomedical engineer on the 16th. After their shopping round, they ate at the McDonald's in their village of Vigonovo near Venice. They got into Filippo's Fiat, and then nothing more was heard from them. It seemed they had run off together, and over the next few days, their parents passionately urged them on television to return.

Meanwhile, disturbing details became known about Filippo. He was manically jealous and could not digest the fact that Cecchettin had broken up with him in August after a one-year relationship. He did not want her to graduate because he himself had not yet finished the same biomedical engineering studies. He was also afraid that she would leave Vigonovo and he would be permanently out of her sight.

Austria

Security cameras revealed that the two had argued violently in the car, and Filippo had then parked in a remote factory yard where fresh blood stains were subsequently found. Filippo's car was then spotted further north towards Austria.

After a week in which the whole of Italy wondered what had become of the two, Cecchettin's bloodied body was found on the shore of a mountain lake deserted at this time of year, hidden under rubbish bags. Macabre details followed: the young woman had been struck by more than 20 stabbings; she must have been fighting for her life for at least 20 minutes and had finally bled to death.

Meanwhile, Filippo undertook a bizarre escape attempt, which ended a week later when German police officers found him next to the Autobahn near Leipzig with an empty tank. Last Saturday, he was extradited to Italy, where he has since confessed to the murder. Knives, rubbish bags and masking tape found in the car suggest premeditation.

Mirror

Cecchettin's murder holds up a mirror to Italian society, all the more so because the protagonists came from perfectly normal, well-off families. But Cecchettin was not the only one: 108 women have already been murdered in Italy this year, 56 of them by their (ex-)partner. Victims of a "patriarchal culture of violence and control over women" that is still alive, as Cecchettin's sister Elena put it.

Women's organisations, TV presenters, journalists and politicians called on men to change their mindsets and on women to report violence immediately. Hotlines against violence and stalking were permanently busy. Rallies in different parts of the country were followed by a demonstration in Rome last Saturday, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, in which at least half a million women (and men) participated.

In addition, it even came to a brief collaboration between Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Elly Schlein, leader of the main opposition party, Partito Democratico. With a hastily drafted law introducing lessons against violence in schools, the government and opposition found each other. Unprecedented for Italy.

This article was translated by CNE.news and published by the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad on November 29, 2023

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