Italian Society Confronts the Epidemic of Femicide

The recent killing of Giulia Cecchettin in Italy has sparked a national conversation about femicide and violence against women. Cecchettin, a 22-year-old biomedical engineering student, was allegedly killed by her possessive ex-boyfriend, Filippo Turetta. The tragedy unfolded when the couple went to buy graduation outfits together, but never returned. CCTV footage later revealed Turetta beating Cecchettin in a parking lot before kidnapping and ultimately murdering her. Her body was discovered a week later, showing signs of a brutal stabbing.
This devastating incident has ignited a wave of grief and anger across Italy, shedding light on the pervasive problem of violence against women. According to data from the Italian interior ministry, 106 women have been killed in Italy this year, with 55 of these cases involving a partner, ex-partner, or family member. This alarming statistic reflects the urgent need for societal change and stronger measures to combat femicide.
In response to Cecchettin’s murder, protests and vigils have taken place throughout the country. Italian newspapers have extensively covered the case, allowing it to capture national attention. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which falls on Saturday, is expected to be marked by further demonstrations in various Italian cities.
The tragic death of Cecchettin has also heightened public awareness of patriarchal attitudes and gender-based violence prevalent in Italian society. Elisa Ercoli, the director of Differenza Donna, a non-government organization dedicated to combating gender violence, emphasized that women often endure violence due to their partner’s resentment towards their success and independence. She further noted that the killing of Cecchettin was the latest in a series of high-profile femicides, exemplifying the urgent need for change.
Giulia Cecchettin and Filippo Turetta met at university and were together for a year and a half before Cecchettin ended the relationship in August. Turetta’s father described him as a “normal boy” without any previous behavioral problems. However, Cecchettin’s sister expressed concerns about Turetta’s possessiveness, highlighting the normalization of controlling behaviors and violence against women.
Italy’s first female prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, has expressed outrage at the long-standing issue of violence against women by partners and ex-partners in the country. Meloni has promised a new educational campaign in schools to tackle Italy’s deeply ingrained culture of misogynistic violence. Additionally, the Italian Senate recently unanimously approved legislation to strengthen measures against gender violence, including stricter restraining orders and increased surveillance of offenders.
While these steps are commendable, critics argue that the government has not done enough to combat gender-based violence and femicide. The responsibility to effect change lies not only with policymakers but also with men in this patriarchal society. Cecchettin’s sister called on men to speak out against controlling behaviors and harassment, emphasizing that these actions often serve as precursors to femicide.
The tragic loss of Giulia Cecchettin has prompted a profound reevaluation of Italian society and its treatment of women. Italy’s deeply rooted patriarchy, as evidenced by the significant number of women who do not work, must be challenged and dismantled. The outpouring of anger and demand for change following Cecchettin’s murder offers hope for a more equitable and safe future for all women in Italy.