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Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Giovanna Martelli and I am the Gender Equality Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Italy.

Allow me to begin by thanking Secretary Morais for inviting me to this event, which attests to the closeness between our Countries in the fight against a phenomenon that has taken on alarming proportions not only within the borders of Italy and Europe but also in every Country of the world. Holding this event demonstrates the ongoing nature of the dialogue on this issue, which began on the occasion of the Presidential Conference on the Beijing + 20 Process, held last October in Rome and attended by the EU Ministers of Gender Equality.

Violence against women and girls is in every way a grave violation of human rights.  The Italian Government is firmly convinced that, if we really wish to eradicate every form of violence against women and girls, we must all commit to a global approach to the fight against this phenomenon. This is why Italy was the first European Country and the first non-American Country to sign the inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women (also known as the Belem do Parà Convention).

As you all know, Italy has always been a leader in the prevention and repression of this phenomenon and in the protection of its victims. Every three days in our Country a woman is killed by her partner, her ex, or a family member. More than one million women have been subject to at least one instance of harassment. Episodes of stalking – since the introduction of this crime into Italian legislation in 2009 – are reported to the police at the rate of more than 25 cases a day. Serious episodes that do not correspond, unfortunately, to an equally heavy number of reports to the police: one third of the women who have suffered violence, in fact, spend their lives without ever speaking about it to anyone.

It is because of these alarming statistics that the Italian Government in the past two years has carried out two awareness-raising campaigns. The first, “Recognize the Violence,” is an invitation to women to have a better, clearer look at the person who is next to them. Every image of the campaign is accompanied by various captions that, in their simplicity, aim to provide concrete advice on how to prevent and react to the first signs of violence. The campaign urges the victims to contact the anti-violence-and-stalking number, 1522.

The second awareness-raising campaign is very innovative and Europe-wide. It is the web-series “#cosedauomini,” addressed to men and boys of all ages. It will be presented at our side event, #THINGSMENDO – Men and Boys against Gender Stereotypes and Violence against Women,” which will take place this Wednesday, 11 March, from 1:15 to 2:30 in Conference Room E, with the sponsorship of UN Women, Poland, Japan, and the European Commission. You are all invited.

The campaign does not treat violence as an out-of-the-ordinary phenomenon, as an extreme act, but it addresses instead what happens before the extreme act, the ordinary culture within which the act is born and enabled. A culture that belongs to all men and governs attitudes and behavior toward women at every age and in every type of relationship. The web series also aims to show the gender stereotypes that come into play in male-female relationships.

In the area of repression and the protection of victims, in 2013 Italy ratified the Istanbul Convention. Following ratification, aggravating factors were added to the penalties, particularly in cases of violence witnessed by children and in situations where the victim is debilitated (for instance, in pregnancy), as well as the parental and affective closeness of the aggressor to the victim.

Repressive measure are fundamental but they are not enough to fully address the phenomenon of violence against women.

For this purpose, a few days ago the Italian Government introduced a special leave of absence for women victims of gender violence who are following duly-certified protection programs. This leave safeguards the possibility for these women employees of private enterprises to be absent from work for a maximum of three months, in order to attend these programs, while being guaranteed full pay, the accrual of all their holidays, and the other related entitlements.

The Italian Government has also drafted a Special Plan of Action against sexual and gender-based violence that contains structured, shared actions in the social, educational, and training fields to guarantee a greater and more complete protection of the victims, also in consideration of the commitments made by our Country when it ratified the Istanbul Convention.

I hasten to recall, in this regard, that the Plan was developed through a collaboration among the main Ministries and with the contribution of the civil society organizations committed to the fight against violence and that, despite the past and current budgetary constraints, the Italian Government has committed a total of 40 million euros in resources until 2016.

Dear Colleagues,

Our Countries alone are not able to win the battle against violence against women. This violence is a global emergency, and it requires a global response.

Thank you.