In the fifth episode of Voci, we discuss an issue that – fortunately – is attracting growing attention, an issue based on a patriarchal worldview whose deep cultural roots are difficult to eradicate: gender violence. More precisely, male violence against women, as Lella Palladino observes in this episode.

A structural phenomenon

Worldwide, gender violence affects 1 in 3 women. In Italy, there were 24 feminicides between January and April 2024, about one every 3/4 days. According to Istat data, 31.5% of women in Italy experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. The most serious assaults are perpetrated by partners or ex partners, relatives or friends. In 62.7% of cases, rape is committed by partners.

Besides physical and sexual violence, gender violence can assume many other guises. This is reflected in the data in the Libellula Foundation’s latest L.E.I. survey (Lavoro, Equità, Inclusione) on the workplace and discrimination against women. Of the 11,000 respondents, about 60% receive a lower salary than male colleagues with an equivalent role, responsibility and seniority of service. With regard to harassment, 40% said they had experienced unwelcome physical contact in the workplace. These two figures are particularly significant, but the discrimination list continues, and extends to maternity, leadership and clothing issues.

L’intervista a Lella Palladino

Lella Palladino is founder of the E.V.A. Social Cooperative and Past President of the Di.Re Foundation (Donne in rete contro la violenza). In this episode of Voci, she talks about anti-violence centres, explaining their activities, the importance of territorial networks, and the methods used to approach women in danger and difficulty. The work is complicated: listening and empathy are core skills for the operators, together with the ability to suspend judgement and respect the woman’s culture and personal situation. The interview then turns to the experience of the E.V.A. Cooperative, which runs five anti-violence centres and shelters, including one for victims of sex trafficking. The cooperative’s main projects focus on job placement for women who have been victims of violence, specifically economic violence.

The episode closes with a look at the current situation in Italy. Today, gender violence has at last gained visibility in public debate, a necessary but not sufficient step to bring it to an end. There are still too many obstacles to women’s freedom and empowerment. Fighting the phenomenon means first of all understanding its cultural and structural nature, based on “the idea that women are second-class citizens, (…) something else with respect to a male universe that continues to regulate everyone’s lives.”.

The Voci series

Voci is the Amapola collection of stories, people and words without limits. It was created with the intention of shining a light on important social issues that risk being submerged in the constant stream of daily news. The playlist with all the interviews is available on YouTube.