Killed as a woman: let’s talk!

by Claudia Moschi - 2013.01.26
Killed as a woman: let’s talk!
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Irritation for partial and superficial information. That’s what led Emanuela Valente, creator of the website, to build a personal archive over the many femicides occurred in Italy in the last few years, including pictures of victims and killers. According to Elisabetta, freelance journalist, in Italy “facts are usually reported from the killer’s point of view and rumors are often used to fill newspapers’ columns. In the end, it’s like if victims are slandered, as in the case of Raffaella Ingrassia. The family, and an accurate verification of the personal stories of who is no longer alive, are not taken into account.

Case after case, her personal folder became a public blog where – she says – “I included less than one tenth of all stories collected. Pure and simple femicides. Women killed as women.  Over claim of ownership and men’s authority.” When opening the page, visual impact is violent and painful: a brief description accompanies the photos of all women killed, with a few details over their killer’s favorite fury. In addition to a page of victims, Elisabetta also dedicated a page to killers: a wall of mug shots with name, surname and sentence received. Most of them had a derisory sentence compared with the crime perpetrated.  Sentence reductions are countless; some killers benefited of the indulto law, while others are still waiting for trial. “An analysis of information contained in every tab will let you understand that murder is only the tip of the iceberg. Almost all murders come after years of violence, tortures and threats, way beyond a jealousy raptus. This term is so recurrent in Italian newspapers. But, by doing so mean to  you deprive homicide of its premeditation because that is what is all about: hits and insults are all preliminary phases against no action is almost always taken. The worst thing is that these women are alone. The bravest ones try and speak out but very often they are not believed, not even by their own family.” But what are the reasons of this isolation? “For our society, it is still difficult to accept the evidence of a violent man, let alone for respectable, well-educated professionals.” If you control these men’s database, they inflict the highest number of stabs. Elisabetta developed the theory of social feminism: “Sometimes we may consider the society itself as a killer. Let’s consider the case of Elisabetta Grande and Maria Belmonte, mother and daughter whose disappearance has never been reported for 8 years, until when they have been found bricked up in their own house. Father and husband are under investigation but in their town, Castel Volturno, nobody has ever thought to search these women. Code of silence is frightening, almost like the judgment of gossipers in Taranto who persecuted Carmela Cirella, 13-year-old victim of a group sex rape, internalized in a psychiatric institute. She killed herself. The idea that women belong to men is still part of our cultural system: he has the right to beat her in case of non-respect, kill her if she dishonors him by cheating him or deciding to break up. We are definitely far from applying any type of solution.”

The law against stalking, only approved in 2009, is one of the few valid tools for women protection; unfortunately, in Italy it is not effective: “Women who find the strength to go to the police are told: "Madam, it is not convenient for you to report him. We do not have the means to protect you and when he will receive the denunciation he will come here, take action and it will be the hell for you as soon as he comes back home. You had better to go home>. Only women who understood they are done take action. They are often the women who end up being killed. It is a vicious circle institutions have trouble to get into.”

Another word often used for femicide if mediatic overexposition: “True, it’s a really discussed topic, it sells and is sometimes included in the category of gender offences. I believe, however, that this is one of those cases in which it is better to speak a lot rather than too little. Women can no longer get convinced that they cannot know their destiny. Thanks to a higher perception of the problem some women stop feeling ashamed, to live violence as a personal failure, look for help. They go to help centres or to centres for women where they are explained their possibilities. Sure, maybe some of them are ineffective but some find the strength to go away, to leave. Other times, unfortunately, women meet unskilled personnel, and this is often counterproducing – these structures work on a voluntary basis due to state funds lack. But we should keep on talking about this.” Thanks to the job of Emanuela Valente, we will possibly learn talking about this theme as we should. 

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