On Tuesday, Italy's lower house of parliament unanimously approved a European treaty to end violence against women while the country mourned a 15-year-old victim of intimate partner violence.
The lower house of parliament ratified the Council of Europe's Istanbul convention, which would create and reinforce legal measures to prevent and prosecute gender-based violence. The treaty now goes before Italy's upper parliament, or Senate, for final ratification. If approved, Italy would become the fifth nation to ratify the treaty, which needs at least 10 nations to ratify before taking effect. It is expected that the Senate will also approve ratification in light of recent horrific attacks on women in the country.
One such case is the story of Fabiana Luzzi, a 15 year old student who was brutally murdered by her 17-year-old boyfriend last week. The boyfriend stabbed Fabiana 20 times and then set her on fire while she was still alive. Her remains were discovered the next day. That same week a 35 year old woman in a different part of the country was stabbed to death by a former partner and a 50 year old woman was shot in the head by her husband, who then committed suicide. Fabiana's funeral, which was attended by thousands of supporters, was held the same day as the vote.
Josefa Idem, the Italian Equal Opportunities Minister, was one of the people in attendance at the funeral. She told reporters, "Faced with Fabiana's death, I reaffirm the commitment of all the government and my ministry to make the fight against gender-based violence a key point of this legislature... I feel the need to ask forgiveness from her and from all women killed by the hand of those who abuse the word love. The state must be more effective in its commitment [and] be even closer to the victims."
According to the women's organization Casa delle Donne, there have been 51 gender-based murders in Italy already this year. However, Telefono Rosa, a domestic violence support group, estimates there have been 38 murders. Both organizations cite a lack of official statistics as a major barrier to seeing the true extent of gender-based violence in Italy. In addition, underreporting presents a major barrier, with a 2012 UN report finding that 90% of instances of rape and abuse in Italy were not reported.
Media Resources: Associated Press 5/29/2013; Guardian 5/28/2013; Reuters 5/28/2013
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .