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Latest Femicide in Italy Sparks Protests, Criticism of Media ‘Sensationalism’

The femicide of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin, apparently by her former boyfriend Filippo Turetta, has sparked furious reactions from feminists groups, activists and rights organisations towards the media, accused of reiterating patriarchal stereotypes in reporting the case.

Turetta was arrested in Germany by German police on Sunday after going missing from home for more than one week. On Sunday night he consented to be extradited to Italy.

Cecchettin and Turetta disappeared on the night of November 11-12. Turetta came under investigation for attempted murder last Friday, when a video showing his aggression toward Cecchettin surfaced. A European arrest warrant was issued the next day. 

Fears that the disappearance of Cecchettin might be another case of femicide were confirmed on Saturday, when her body was found with many knife wounds in a valley between Lake Barcis and Piancavallo in Pordenone province, a one-hour drive from the Slovenian border.

Both were 22-year-old students of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Padua. They had been in a relationship for two years that ended during the summer.

On the fatal night, Turetta came prepared with a knife and several plastic bags, media reported. After concealing her body, he left by car. His car number plate was caught on video by a surveillance camera in Austria a few days before his arrest.

Media coverage of the case was criticised even before the body was found. “While investigations into the disappearance of Giulia Cecchettin and Filippo Turetta […] are ongoing, local media begin their morbid quest for intimate details, aiming to sensationalise the story,” wrote  the transfeminist movement Non Una Di Meno, NUDM – Not One Woman Less, in a post on social media on November 15. NUDM organised a protest in Rome on Saturday night. Protests were held in several cities around Italy, organised by local feminists groups and activists.

Since the disappearance of the two, media published several articles in which the parents and friends of Turetta described him as a “nice guy”, incapable of such violence. Media also explored intimate details of the relationship between the two, published their Instagram accounts handles and published old pictures of the couple happily in love under the title “Missing youngsters: found the body of a woman, presumed to be Giulia Cecchin.”

“We label this poor journalism ‘media violence,’ which is one of the many ways patriarchy manifests itself,“ NUDM commented.

According to the Ministry of Interior, Cecchettin was the 83rd victim of femicide in 2023. According to NUDM’s data, she’s the 91st woman killed in Italy this year because of her gender by a person close to her.

Elly Schlein, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, called on Prime Minister Meloni on Saturday to overcome political differences and work together to adopt a comprehensive “Education in emotional development” plan for schools.

“Tomorrow I will send an invitation to all Italian schools to observe a minute of silence on Tuesday in honour of Giulia and all abused women and victims of violence,” said Minister of Education Giuseppe Valditara.

He also announced the presentation on Wednesday of the “Educating for Relationships’” plan, consisting of lesson to be held by psychologists during civic education hours in schools, on which the government has been working since September.

In May 2023, MEPs from the governing Lega [League] and Fratelli d’Italia [Brothers of Italy] parties chose to abstain and not support the two resolutions in the European Parliamen to join the so-called Istanbul convention, the first legally binding international treaty on preventing and combating gender-based and domestic violence. However, both texts passed with an overwhelming majority of 472 and 464 votes, with only about a hundred against or abstaining.

Source : Balkan Insight