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Combatting violence against women must be high on Italy’s national agenda – UN Independent Expert

27 January 2012

ROME – Despite efforts to combat violence against women in Italy, the levels of such violence remain high and there is an urgent need to address the underlying structural causes of inequality and discrimination, the UN independent expert on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, said on Thursday.

At the end of a 12-day official mission to Italy, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences, stressed that the current political and economic situation in Italy was no justification to decrease attention and resources allocated to addressing issues surrounding violence against women, especially since there have been increasing instances of femicide and domestic violence.

“I call on all relevant stakeholders to take on the responsibility at this crucial time to promote human rights for all, and most importantly, to keep the issue of violence against women on the national agenda,” Ms Manjoo said.

During her mission to the country from 15 to 26 January, Ms Manjoo met women in custody, survivors of violence, and visited anti-violence shelters for women in Rome, Milan, Bologna and Naples, as well as an authorised camp for the Roma and Sinti community and an immigration detention center for irregular migrants. Ms Manjoo also had meetings with high-level officials and civil society representatives.

“My visit focused broadly on violence against women in four spheres, including the home, the community, violence perpetrated or condoned by the state, and violence in the transnational context,” Ms Manjoo said.

“I looked into the issue domestic violence, femicide, violence against women who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including Roma, Sinti and other migrant women, detained women, women with disabilities and transgendered people.”

She highlighted the multiple forms of violence and discrimination in both the private and public sectors faced by minority women. This is exacerbated by their civil status, whether regular or irregular, their socio-economic realities, and their lack of trust and confidence in the state system, amongst others.

Ms Manjoo said that there is a vast amount of experience and expertise in Italy in the provision of legal, social, psychological and economic assistance to victims of violence against women, and that this should not be lost in the current economic climate.

“Most manifestations of violence are underreported in the context of a family-oriented and patriarchal society where, domestic violence is not always perceived as a crime, there is economic dependency, and there are perceptions that the state response to such complaints will not be appropriate or helpful,” she said.

“A fragmented legal framework and inadequate investigation, punishment for perpetrators, and compensation for women victims of violence, also contributes to the silencing and invisibility surrounding this issue.”

Ms Manjoo called for holistic solutions to address the individual needs of women as well as the social, economic and cultural barriers belying such violence. She added that systemic, structural inequality and discrimination often facilitate violence against women.

Ms Manjoo will present the comprehensive findings from her mission at the June 2012 session of the Human Rights Council.

To read the full statement, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11784&LangID=E (English) and http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/issues/Women/PRItalian012012.doc (Italian)

ENDS

Ms. Rashida Manjoo (South Africa) was appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences in June 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three year. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Manjoo is also a Professor at the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town.

Learn about the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, please visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/women/rapporteur/index.htm

Check the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N94/095/05/PDF/N9409505.pdf?OpenElement

OHCHR Country Page – Italy
http://ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/ITIndex.aspx

For additional information and press inquiries please write to vaw@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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