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How Giulia Cecchettin's Death Sparked New-Wave Feminism In Italy

The murder of an Italian student, allegedly by her possessive ex-boyfriend, has shocked the nation and sparked a conversation on the issue of violence against women. Government data states that in 2023, 55 women were victims of intimate partner violence

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Tanya Savkoor
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Protests in Turin, Italy. Image: ZUMA Press

Vigils and protests have erupted across Italy, following the murder of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin, allegedly at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. Cecchettin, an engineering student, went missing since the day she went to buy her graduation outfit with her ex, Filippo Turetta. She was later found dead with at least 20 stab wounds, in a ditch near a lake in Venice. BBC reported that CCTV footage revealed 21-year-old Turetta taping Cecchettin's mouth shut and beating her up that night. Turetta was traced and arrested from Leipzig, Germany where he was hiding.

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Giulia Cecchettin. Credit: fanpage.it

Prosecutors said that Turetta killed Cecchettin as she tried to end their relationship. The incident was reported as the 105th femicide in Italy this year. According to Italian internal ministry data, 55 of those women were killed by their partners or ex-partners. On November 25, which is the International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women, massive protests are expected to take place across the country, marking the increasing number of femicides in Italy.

Protests Across Italy

“This is a script that we know very well,” Cristina Gamberi, a research fellow at the University of Bologna told The Guardian. “But with Giulia something is different,” said Gamberi. “And in my reading, what is different is her sister Elena,” she added. Elana Cecchettin, Giulia's sister, has accused Turetta of controlling and possessive behaviour, as opposed to the media's alleged sympathetic portrayal of him.

Elisa Ercoli, director of Differenza Donna, a non-government organisation fighting gender-based violence, told BBC that the killing was "the last straw, after a string of high-profile cases of femicides... In Italy, a woman is killed every three days," she noted, adding that the reason for Italy's women getting killed by their partner is that the men resented their independence. "In a toxic relationship, the most unbearable thing for violent men is when women are more successful than them," she noted.

BBC reported that Turetta and Cecchettin met in college where they studied the same subject, but she was going to graduate before him, which was expected to happen just a few days after the day she was murdered. "That empty desk on the day she should have gotten her diploma is a harrowing image", Ercoli expressed to BBC.

"Italy is a deeply patriarchal country... It's a backward society where women are still subordinate... And while women have made big steps forward and are much more aware of their rights, men are still firmly anchored to the idea of a patriarchal relationship," Ercoli added. says.

Even Italy's first female prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, has condemned the country's long history of violence against women by partners and ex-partners. She has promised a new educational campaign in schools to combat Italy's culture of gender-motivated violence.

Violence against women Italy Femicide Italy PM
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