The legislation relating to violence

Violence against women is a serious form of human rights violation and is a phenomenon that affects all countries and traverses all sociological conditions: it is in fact independent of social class, level of education and income, nationality, religion, sexuality, age and ethnicity.

Violence against women is defined as “gender-based violence” according to the Recommendation Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which came into force on 3 September 1981 and was ratified by Italy on 10 June 1985.

In 1993, violence against women was fully recognized by the Declaration of the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna (1993) and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (A/Res/48/104, 20 December 1993) as a human rights violation.

In 1995, the World Conference organized by the United Nations in Beijing also reiterated the urgent need to develop appropriate policies to combat violence against women and girls by making certain commitments to the Governments of the participating States.

In 2002, the World Health Organization (MDG) declared men’s violence against women a public health problem and in 2012, through resolution A/RES/67/144, it intensified efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women.

Since 2000, the Council of Europe has also put the fight against violence against women on the political agenda. Specifically, in 2002, Recommendation Rec (2002)5 of the Committee of Ministers of the Member States on the protection of women victims of violence was adopted and between 2006 and 2008 it promoted a European campaign to combat the phenomenon.

In 2008, the Ad Hoc Committee for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CAHVIO) drafted a document, known as the Istanbul Convention, which was approved by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 7 April 2011 and signed by Italy in Strasbourg on 27 September 2012.

The Convention, approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate in June 2013, entered into force on 1 August 2014 and is now the primary legally binding international instrument setting out a legal framework for tackling violence against women and domestic violence.

National legislation

Accession to the Istanbul Convention is part of a series of national policies already undertaken by Italy in recent years.

In recent decades Italy has ratified all the main international conventions and European directives on combating sexual violence against women. However, it is only since 1996 that rape has been considered a crime against the person and not against morality.

With the new millennium, things have changed. In fact, Law no. 154 of 4 April 2001, “Measures against violence in family relationships”, provides for the removal from the family home of the spouse or cohabitant who has threatened or mistreated the woman.

Subsequently, Law no. 38 of 23 April 2009 introduced the offence of “persecutory acts” (so-called stalking) into Article 612/bis of the Criminal Code. Following its entry into force, on 11 November 2010 the Government adopted the first National Plan against gender violence and stalking.

Following the signing of the Istanbul Convention, Law no. 119 of 15 October 2013, “Urgent provisions on security and the fight against gender-based violence, as well as on civil protection and commissioning of the Provinces”, published in the Official Gazette no.242 , was approved  on 15 October 2013, sharpening the tools of prosecution for the phenomena of ill-treatment in the family (crimes of ill-treatment against family members and cohabitants, Article 572 of the Criminal Code), sexual violence and persecution, adopting specific measures to protect women victims of violence and their children.

Law no. 119/13 also introduced strategies to combat gender-based violence and defined the basic tools and criteria for their implementation. In particular it:

  • sets up a specific fund to support the actions of anti-violence centres and refuges, which is distributed annually among the Regions;
  • provides for the definition of an extraordinary Action Plan against sexual and gender-based violence;
  • indicates the objectives to guarantee the homogenization of actions throughout the national territory;
  • entrusts the Permanent Conference for relations between the State and the Regions with the definition of criteria for the distribution of resources on the basis of the number of anti-violence centres and refuges existing in each Region;
  • defines which entities can promote anti-violence centres and refuges.

Finally, the State-Regions agreement “Understanding on the minimum requirements of anti-violence centres and refuges, provided for by art. 3 paragraph 4 of the dpcm of 24 July 2014”, signed on 27 November 2014, indicates the defining, organizational and structural requirements of anti-violence centres and refuges, as well as the minimum services they must provide.




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