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Society

Italy adopts emergency domestic violence law following murder of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin

Italy was rocked by mass protests after the brutal murder of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin.

During the investigation, Giulia's ex-boyfriend was detained and tried to escape to Germany. Meanwhile, the country's parliament urgently adopted a law against domestic violence.

"You hurt me"

These words were heard by a resident of the small town of Vigonovo in the province of Venice on the evening of November 11 in the parking lot of a shopping centre on the day of the murder of Giulia Cecchettin. The man immediately called the police and said that he witnessed the attack. He added that he saw a young man kick the girl several times while she was lying on the ground screaming for help. After that, the attacker locked her in the trunk of a black Fiat and drove away in an unknown direction.

The police asked about the licence plates, but the witness did not see them in the dark. For some time, the police thought about whether or not to send a patrol...  no one from the police arrived at the parking lot until the next day.

A day later, the Cecchettin family reported Giulia missing. The girl's father said he feared for his daughter because her ex-boyfriend Filippo Turetta "has not accepted the end of their relationship." Only then did the police begin an investigation.


Giulia Cecchettin
Photo: social media

But by that time Giulia was already dead. In fact, she died earlier - about an hour after the witness called.

From the parking lot, Turetta - who investigators suspected - quickly drove to the Fosso industrial area. There Giulia miraculously managed to escape. But Turetta caught up with her, threw her to the ground and stabbed her. Investigators would later determine that Giulia fought for her life for almost 25 minutes.

During the investigation, police found traces of blood, hair and a kitchen knife without a handle several kilometres from the parking lot. Giulia's body itself was found on November 18, wrapped in plastic in a ditch, wrapped in plastic. It was found beside a lake near the town of Piancavallo in the north of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Forensic experts found at least 26 stab wounds on the girl’s head, neck and legs.

Giulia's mouth was sealed with tape so that no one could hear her cries for help.

Murderous jealousy

In the photo on Instagram, a smiling dark-haired girl with a fringe is looking at us. Cecchettin was studying engineering at the University of Padua. On the eve of her disappearance, Giulia was preparing for a celebration: she was supposed to receive a degree in biomedical engineering.

Mutual acquaintances of the young people told reporters that Turetta was jealous and obsessive, and often controlled his partners. He checked Cecchettin’s smartphone every now and then, constantly texting and calling her when she was not with him. According to friends, when the young people broke up, he refused to accept it.


Giulia Cecchettin and Filippo Turetta
Photo: fanpage.it

Even before Giulia's body was discovered, the police put Turetta on the wanted list. He was found on November 19 near Leipzig, Germany - police checked a car parked on the side of the road that had run out of gas, Turetta was inside.

The young man has now been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murder and is awaiting extradition to Italy. The media write that Turetta does not try to hamper the work of the investigation or his extradition.

"Healthy Sons of Patriarchy"

After Cecchettin's murder, a wave of protests swept the country. People brought flowers and candles to Giulia's family's house. At the spontaneous memorial one could see a note: “Forgive us. We didn't try hard enough to change the culture."

On November 20, the human rights group Non Una Di Meno organised a protest against gender-based violence in Padua, in which about 15 thousand people took part. The protesters carried banners with the words “We want to live and be free” and “True love does not kill.”

“Since the beginning of this year, more than a hundred of our sisters have become victims of violence, which the media constantly tries to deny. And this denial is systemic, permeating all areas of life... in our patriarchal society,” wrote Non Una Di Meno activists.

One of the biggest actions took place on November 25 in Rome on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Protests also took place in Bologna, Turin and other Italian cities.

Elena Cecchettin, Giulia’s sister, called the incident “femicide,” that is, the deliberate killing of a woman simply because she is a woman. Elena also called on society not only to protest silently, but also to make as much noise as possible about the crime.

“If you have keys, rattle them,” she asks in a letter published in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

So when Italian Education Minister Giuseppe Valditara called on schools to hold a moment of silence in memory of Giulia, some students staged a “minute of noise.”

Elena herself believes that Turetta cannot be called a monster, because “a monster is an exception, a person outside of society, for whom society does not need to be responsible.”

“But there is responsibility. They [such people] are not monsters: they are healthy sons of patriarchy and rape culture,” adds Elena.


Protests in Rome
Photo: X

The incident shocked the public so much   that even the head coach of the Italian national football team, Luciano Spalletti, commented on the situation.

“We are fed up with these trashy cowards masquerading as handsome princes, and we must help women distance themselves from those who claim their freedom,” Spalletti said during an interview.

laws

Last week, the country's authorities urgently adopted a law against domestic violence. It provides for tougher preventive measures, as well as “increased use of electronic monitoring devices” that stalkers are required to wear.

In addition, the country's authorities promised to increase funding for programs to protect women. Schools will also teach the importance of respect  between boys and girls in relationships.

“However, all this will be of no avail if we cannot grasp the great truth that young Giulia Cecchettin’s father recognised in that heartbreaking moment: “True love does not kill. True love never causes harm,” said Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

She also recalled that, according to official data from the Ministry of the Interior, 102 women were killed in Italy in 2023. Of these, 53 were victims of their partners or ex-partners.

“I feel endless sadness when I look at the smiling photographs of this young girl, and along with the sadness I feel great anger... Every woman killed because she is “guilty” of her freedom is an aberration that cannot be tolerated and that forces me to continue on the path chosen to stop this barbarity,” added Meloni.

Meanwhile, Elena Biagioni, vice president of the national anti-violence network D.i.Re, said in an interview with The New York Times that the law will not solve the problem in the country:

“We have laws, and they are fine, even if they can be improved... The whole problem is in the application of these laws.”

Biagioni added that the problem "is structural and permeates the whole of society" and any change will take time and work on many fronts.

ActionAid recalled that of the total anti-violence funds allocated by the government between 2020 and 2023, only 12% was spent on preventing gender-based violence. The group's report also shows that spending on women's protection has doubled over the past ten years, but the number of women killed by their partners has remained stagnant.

“The only way to build a society free of violence against women is to confront gender disparities. ​That’s why we ask the government to allocate more resources to prevent [domestic violence],” the organisation’s speaker emphasised.


Alyona Popova
Photo: Maria Ionova-Gribina / Meduza

Russian human rights activist Alena Popova drew a parallel between the laws on domestic violence in Italy and Russia. She recalled that in Russia, according to Rosstat, there are more than 16 million victims of all types of domestic violence per year, however, beatings have been decriminalised, and Vladimir Putin continues to issue pardons to rapists who return from the war in Ukraine.

In 2020, student Vera Pekhteleva was killed by her ex-boyfriend Vladimir Kanyus over the course of several hours.

“The neighbours heard screams, the police never arrived. Kanyus stabbed Vera more than 111 times, raped her and strangled her with an iron cord. Kanyus was sentenced to 17 years. In 2022.  But now, he has  been pardoned  by presidential decree and is free,” recalls Popova.

The human rights activist emphasised that almost a million signatures have been collected for the law on domestic violence in Russia. Mass demonstrations and single pickets were held throughout the country, and the law was talked about by the media, deputies and senators.

“In 2019, Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko said that there would be a law, this is the main goal for 2020 for the Federation Council. Since 2017, State Duma deputy Oksana Pushkina has been fighting to introduce the law on domestic violence to State Duma hearings,” recalls Popova.

However, there is still no law on domestic violence in Russia and, apparently, in the near future, there will not be any.

YANA - You Are Not Alone. A new project to help victims of domestic violence in emigration

By: Katya Kobenok

Cover photo: Giulia Cecchettin (vanityfair.it)

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