Rape and Domestic Violence: The prescribed penalty for the crime of rape, including spousal rape, is five to 12 years in prison. 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. Judicial protection measures for violence occurring within a family allow for an ex parte application to a civil court judge in urgent cases. 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. A specific law on stalking includes mandatory detention for acts of sexual violence, including by partners. The law leaves responsibility for the provision of shelter to victims with local municipalities, but they generally did not provide sufficient funds for shelters. The government enforced the law effectively, but authorities prosecuted only if a victim filed charges.
The National Institute for Statistics (ISTAT) reported 7 percent of women were at least once in their lives victims of physical and sexual violence committed by their partners, and 20 percent were victims of physical violence. Between August 2013 and July 2014, 72 women were killed by their partners, nine by their former partners, and 72 by relatives.
The Department of Equal Opportunity operated a hotline for victims of violence seeking immediate assistance and temporary shelter. Between January and May, the hotline received approximately 35,000 calls. Of the 1,800 calls received in September, 10 percent came from foreigners, 25 percent were requests for help from victims of violence, and 34 percent were requests for information on shelters. Of 560 reported abuse cases, 53 percent involved physical violence, and 37 percent involved psychological violence. Husbands were responsible for 44 percent of the cases of violence. In 2013 the NGO Telefono Rosa assisted 1,504 victims of violence. In 82 percent of cases partners, spouses, and former husbands and partners committed the violence. Approximately 22 per cent of the cases involved physical violence.
The Department of Equal Opportunity also operated a hotline for victims of stalking. In 2013 the Ministry of Interior reported 10,700 stalking complaints in which 80 percent of the victims were women. In 5,900 cases perpetrators were given a restraining order, in 1,100 cases perpetrators received a police warning, and in 190 cases perpetrators were forced to move. The Ministry of Justice reported that in 2012 prosecutors investigated 11,436 cases of stalking. In 90 percent of the cases, the victims were women, and 15 percent were foreigners. In 74 percent of the cases, the perpetrators were former partners. The reasons given were the intention to reestablish a relationship (51 percent of cases), jealousy (26 percent), or psychological and sexual obsessions (21 percent).
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C is a crime punishable by up to 12 years’ imprisonment. During the year there were no reports of any incidents of FGM/C.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is illegal. The law on sexual violence prescribes penalties of five to 12 years in prison. Minor cases of verbal sexual harassment in public are punished with up to six months’ incarceration and a fine of up to 516 euros ($645). The government effectively enforced the law. By government decree, emotional abuse based on gender discrimination is a crime, but many victims failed to report incidents. Police investigated the reports of harassment submitted to authorities.
Reproductive Rights: The government recognized the basic right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children; to obtain the information and means to do so; and to attain the highest standard of reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men, including rights under family law, labor law, property law, and inheritance law. In many cases victims of discrimination were unwilling to request the forms of protections provided by employment laws or collective contracts. The law requires equal pay for equal work. According to EuroStat’s most recent data, the overall gap between salaries for men and women increased from 5.8 percent in 2011 to 6.7 percent in 2012. Women continued to be underrepresented in many fields, including management, entrepreneurial business, and other professions. In 2013, 31 percent of entrepreneurs and independent workers and 15 percent of heads of health departments were women. Data released in June indicated women constituted 21 percent of board members of public companies, 1 percent above the minimum required by law.
A number of government offices promoted women’s rights, including the Department for Equal Opportunity and the Equal Opportunity Commission in the Prime Minister’s Office. Many NGOs, most of them affiliated with labor unions or political parties, actively and effectively promoted women’s rights.