Italian girl's murder spurs unanimous vote on anti-domestic-violence treaty

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 May, 2013, 2:48am


Italy's lower chamber of parliament ratified a European treaty against domestic violence as the country buried its latest woman murder victim: a 15-year-old girl stabbed and burned alive, allegedly by her boyfriend.

The issue of Italy's rising tide of violence against women has been in the spotlight with a raft of headline-grabbing murders of women, often by their current or past lovers.

The United Nations special investigator on violence against women reported last year that since the 1990s, as homicides committed by men against men fell in Italy, the number of women murdered by men has risen: In 2010, the figure stood at 127, the UN report said.

On Tuesday, Italy's lower Chamber of Deputies ratified the Council of Europe's convention on preventing and fighting violence against women, sending the bill to the Senate, where passage is expected.

The 2011 treaty creates a legal framework to prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women. So far, four Council of Europe members have ratified it.

The unanimous vote occurred at the same time as the funeral for Fabiana Luzzi, who was beaten, stabbed 20 times and set on fire last Friday in the poor region of Calabria. Italian news reports have said her boyfriend, identified only as Davide because he is a minor, was in custody and had confessed.

Details of the crime turned even more gruesome after news reports citing the coroner and prosecutors said Luzzi bled for two hours and was alive before her boyfriend returned with a tank of petrol. She apparently tried unsuccessfully to fight him off when he doused her with the fuel and then set her alight.

The boyfriend's lawyer reportedly said he would seek a psychiatric evaluation if the judge does not order one.

Several lawmakers cited Luzzi's violent death in remarks before the treaty vote, and the chamber president, Laura Boldrini, hailed the treaty as an important step forward for Italy.

Italy has several laws on the books already that should prevent such crimes and ensure perpetrators are prosecuted.

But last year, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, said implementation of Italy's laws is often stymied by their fragmented nature, inadequate sanctions, lack of redress for victims and lengthy trials that often end with cases being thrown out because of the statute of limitations.

She said 78 per cent of all violence against women in Italy was domestic in nature.