Italian government moves to crack down on violence against women

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Italy’s government approved a bill to tackle gender-based violence and strengthen surveillance on suspects, amid growing worries over high levels of hate crimes against women.

The Interior Ministry says 93 women have been killed in 2021 by partners or relatives, while almost 4,000 women have been sexually assaulted so far this year and 13,990 have been victims of stalking.

The bill, which will have to be approved by parliament, authorises police to take action against suspects even if the victim herself does not report the offence — a move aimed at helping women who are afraid of filing formal accusations.

“It was necessary to act in order to prevent such things from happening,” Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese told a news conference that she held alongside seven other female ministers of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government.

Economic support will be provided to victims to encourage them to report offences while a jail term will be handed down on suspects who try to tamper with electronic bracelets, which are meant to keep tabs on their movements.

If a woman is believed to be in danger, police can decide to monitor her home to protect her.

“We have decided to set up, for the most serious cases, dynamic protection and supervision which will not affect the freedom of the victim, but at the same time will safeguard her life,” said Regional Affairs Minister Mariastella Gelmini.

The new bill comes just two years after parliament passed a law that imposed tougher penalties, including longer prison sentences, for those found guilty of violent attacks on women, sexual abuse and stalking. It also said cases had to be dealt with by courts as a priority and investigations fast-tracked.

However the 2019 measures have done little to end the assaults.

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