Somehow, even after living 4 years in Italy, this country still does not cease to surprise me. People from abroad regularly ask me how it is to live in a country that invented the mafia, be it the Sicilian one or variations on the theme such as the Camorra in Naples or ‘ndragheta in Calabria. Media attention flares up now and then, but up north here, one notices little of it. To compare figures: according to the Eures 2007 report about 2006 statistics of Italy, it appears that more people are killed in the confinement between domestic walls within the nuclear family than at the hands of the mafia, and comparatively more domestic homicides in the north of Italy than elsewhere—94 vs. 62 in the south and 39 in the centre of the country. Hence, the problems here are not organized and at one’s doorstep but are within the space of the four walls that is supposed to be a safe and comforting retreat.
Grouping the data by another category, gender, reveals that 134 of the 195 victims are women. Italian’s Istat 2006 statistics add further that there were 6.7 million registered cases of violence against women, of which 70% in the family environment, but that only 1% of the perpetrators is convicted; that much for an indication of facing a systemic problem. This brings me back to the title of this post: the 25th of November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (see also UNIFEM’s facts & figures). If an international day calling attention to the problems changes anything, I don’t know. In Italy, the 2006 figures for familial homicide were up 12.5% compared to 2005.
Perhaps taking into consideration how it came about that it is on the 25th of November, might. Three of the four sisters Mirabal were executed on 25 November 1960 by the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa Mirabal were to a greater or lesser extent part of the resistance against the dictatorial oppression, which the terrorizing state apparatus obviously did not appreciate. Julia Alvarez’ book “In the time of the butterflies” provides a very readable (romanticized) account of the sisters’ lives (their code name was las mariposas, which means `the butterflies’ in Spanish). Hence, this day is actually not only to commemorate courageous women’s struggle against oppression, but also to draw attention to the struggle against injustice in general.
In closing, I’m pulling a quote from a different source and framework for societal organization, which is relevant globally anyway:
“If human beings can learn to order their homes justly so that the human rights of all within its jurisdiction—children, women, and men—are safeguarded, then they can also order their society and the world at large, justly.”
p.s.: the limited wordpress tagging system cuts off the display of long tags, the system itself deals with it as it is supposed to. In casu, the display of “International Day for the Elimination of Violence again” is actually the tag “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women“…