Global Demonstrations Call for End to Violence Against Women

Italy's protests honor Giulia Cecchettin, whose body was found a week ago
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 25, 2023 4:50 PM CST
Rallies Around the World Decry Violence Against Women
A woman attends a demonstration on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, in Milan, Italy, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Demonstrations around the world on Saturday marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In Italy's main cities, tens of thousands took to the streets of Italy's main cities, just as an Italian man suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend was extradited from Germany. The slaying of 22-year-old university student Giulia Cecchettin, which police say was at the hands of her former boyfriend, sparked outrage across Italy, where on average one woman is killed every three days. Suspect Filippo Turetta, 21, landed at the Venice airport around mid-morning on Saturday, the AP reports. He was immediately transferred to a prison in the northern city of Verona to face questions in the investigation into Cecchettin's death, Italian media reported.

Cecchettin had disappeared after meeting Turetta for a burger at a shopping mall near Venice, days before she was to receive her degree in biomedical engineering. Her body was found on Nov. 18—covered by black plastic bags in a ditch near a lake in the foothills of the Alps. Turetta was arrested the following day. Cecchettin's killing has sparked an unprecedented wave of grief and anger in Italy, where many women say patriarchal attitudes are still entrenched. Data from the Italian Interior Ministry show that 106 women have been killed in Italy this year, with a partner or former partner accused in 55 of the slayings. Italy's RAI state TV reported that since Cecchettin's body was found, calls to a national hotline for women fearing for their safety at the hands of men have jumped from some 200 to 400 a day—including from parents of young women.

Many of the demonstrations that took place across Italy remembered Cecchettin and her striking story. "Male violence is something that personally touched me and all of us, at every age," Aurora Arleo, a 24-year-old student said in Rome. "We have united also in the name of Giulia, because her story struck us, and I hope it will change something." Thousands of men of all ages also joined Saturday's initiatives. "I think it was important to be here today," said Leonardo Sanna, 19, who took part in the Rome demonstration with female friends, adding: "I believe that Giulia's death changed in part the perception of this problem among youths. And I hope this is not going to be short-lived." The Italian parliament approved new measures this week to clamp down on violence against women, following unanimous support from the two chambers.

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Among the measures is a campaign in schools to address sexism, machismo, and psychological and physical violence against women. "A human society that aspires to be civilized cannot accept, cannot endure this string of attacks on women and murders," President Sergio Mattarella said on Saturday. "We cannot just counter this with intermittent indignation." In a message Saturday, Pope Francis called gender violence a plague that must be rooted out from society and called for educational action. "Violence against women is a poisonous weed that plagues our society and must be pulled up from its roots," the pope wrote on X. "These roots grow in the soil of prejudice and of injustice; they must be countered with educational action that places the person, with his or her dignity, at the center."

(More violence against women stories.)

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