Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal, and the government enforced the law effectively. According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), in 2009 there were 4,963 cases of rape reported to the police.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, remained a problem. In September 2010 ISTAT reported that approximately 10.5 million women aged 16 to 65, or 51.8 percent of all women, were victims of violence or harassment at least once in their lives. Between 2008 and 2010, 3.9 million women were involved in cases of violence or harassment. Of these 3.9 million cases, 27 percent were verbal assaults, 22 percent were stalking, 20 percent were indecent exposure, and 19 percent involved physical violence. Women who lived in big cities were more at risk; 64.9 percent of urban-dwelling women reported a case of violence or stalking at least once in their lifetime. An estimated 8.5 percent of women in the study reported sexual harassment at work. In 2010 police reported to prosecutors 4,813 cases of sexual violence, most of which occurred against women. Updated data were not available.
The law criminalizes the physical abuse of women, including by family members; allows for the prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women; and helps abused women avoid publicity. Police officers and judicial authorities prosecuted perpetrators of violence against women, but victims frequently declined to press charges due to fear, shame, or ignorance of the law.
In 2009 the Ministry of Equal Opportunity established a hotline for victims of stalking in addition to the hotline for victims of violence seeking immediate assistance and temporary shelter. Local authorities fund shelters and protected communities usually run by NGOs. These initiatives improved awareness of rights and remedies, and women were more inclined to denounce their abusers. Between mid-September 2010 and March 17, 2011, the Ministry of Equal Opportunity’s hotline received 11,900 calls. Of the 4,500 calls received between January 10 and March 17, 2011, 10 percent were from foreigners, 35 percent regarded cases of psychological violence, 25 percent involved physical violence, and 6 percent involved stalking. In 2010 police received 5,739 stalking complaints, 87 percent of which were reported by women. Updated data were not available.
In 2010 the NGO Telefono Rosa assisted 1,749 victims of violence, 40 percent of whom were victims of physical violence, 38 percent of psychological violence, and 9 percent of stalking. Between September and December 2010 the NGO ACMID-Donna, which ran a hotline for abused Muslim women, received 1,376 calls, 970 of which were requests for help. Of those who called, 74 were victims of forced marriage; 23 were subsequently sheltered in protected communities.
Harmful Traditional Practices: The media occasionally reported on “honor crimes.” On December 22, a Modena court sentenced to life imprisonment a Pakistani, Khan Ahamad Butt, for the murder of his wife, Shanaz Begum. His son, Umair, was sentenced to 20 years in jail for the attempted murder of Butt’s daughter, Nosheen Butt. Shanaz Begum had defended her daughter against her husband and son after the daughter had refused an arranged marriage with an older man.
On January 28, a court of appeals sentenced 45-year-old Moroccan El Ketaoui Dafani to life imprisonment for the murder of his 18-year-old daughter, Saana Dafani, in 2009. El Ketaoui killed his daughter for having a relationship with a 31-year-old Italian man. His lawyers appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): FGM is a crime punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment. According to the National Institute for the Health of Migrants, which assisted close to 5,000 FGM victims over the previous 10 years, as many as 3,000 additional girls were at risk of genital mutilation. In 2009 the Ministry of Equal Opportunity estimated that 35,000 immigrant women (1,100 of whom were age 17 and younger) were victims of genital mutilation. In the vast majority of cases the mutilation occurred in the victims’ countries of origin. Most of the women lived in Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, and Lazio. A Ministry of Equal Opportunity interagency committee in charge of combating FGM implemented a prevention program that included an awareness campaign for immigrants, risk analysis, cultural mediator training, and a hotline dedicated to FGM victims.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is illegal, and the government effectively enforced the law. By government decree, emotional abuse based on gender discrimination is a crime.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals had the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children and had the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, or violence. Access to information on contraception and skilled attendance at delivery and in postpartum care were widely available. Women and men received equal access to diagnostic services and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Discrimination: The law gives women the same rights as men, including rights under family law, inheritance law, property law, and the judicial process.
According to Eurostat the overall gap between salaries for men and women in 2009 was 5.5 percent. Women continued to be underrepresented in many fields, including management, entrepreneurial business, and other professions. In 2009, 63 percent of public health employees were women, but women accounted for only 18 percent of all public health executives. In 2010 women represented only 6 percent of board members of companies listed on the stock market. On June 29, the parliament approved legislation which requires companies listed on the stock market to appoint women to at least one-fifth of executive board positions by 2012 and at least one-third by 2015.
On December 22, the parliament approved legislation raising the retirement age for women and ending discrimination between men and women in the private sector by 2018.
A number of government offices worked to provide for women’s rights, including the Ministry for Equal Opportunity and the Equal Opportunity Commission in the Prime Minister’s Office. The Ministry of Labor and Welfare has a similar commission that focuses on women’s rights and workplace discrimination. Many NGOs, most of them affiliated with labor unions or political parties, actively and effectively promoted women’s rights.