ITALY: New government’s Anti-Violence Against Women Plan drafted without the participation of anti-violence CSOs

Consulted, but not listened to“, claimed D.i.Re (Women’s Network Against Violence, the Italian national network uniting 82 anti-violence against women centres in the whole country) referring to “the new Anti-Violence Plan anticipated in the press, without any participation of anti-violence associations.”

On 9 November, D.i.Re published an open letter to the Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities and the Family to address the issue:

“We learn from the press in an article entitled “Violence against women, here is the new strategic plan 2021-2023“, written by Simona Rossitto on 05 November 2021, that 11 months after the deadline the new anti-violence plan would be ready.

Surprising is the method used that should have taken into account a sharing, strongly recommended in the GREVIO report, but certainly desirable especially for the presence of D.i.Re anti-violence centres at the tables that preceded the final draft.

Consulted but not listened to. Once again a presence considered formal!

Participated paths foresee the sharing of contents and the respect of methodological rules that have been disregarded.

Once again.

Let it not be said that this plan was conceived “in consultation with the associations”.

No participatory process.

Yet D.i.Re has not lacked contributions, ideas, trying to make effective, in compliance with international treaties (law 27 June 2013, n. 77), the anti-violence system on the basis of a grassroot knowledge, rich in experience and expertise.

Just one example to make explicit our contribution to the improvement of the anti-violence system: the revision of the minimum requirements of anti-violence centres, the amendment of the State-Region Agreement.

We worked together with the DPO [Equal Opportunities Department, ed.] providing the necessary elements to build a skeleton of the system more in line with the principles of the Istanbul Convention, more appropriate to prevent and fight violence against women. What happened to our contribution?

And almost a year ago, we shared with Minister Bonetti the Strategic Proposals developed by D.i.Re together with UNHCR to improve the response of the Italian anti-violence system to the specific needs of migrant women, asylum seekers and refugees.

A year was lost, not recoverable, which saw the difficulties created by the pandemic still alive and which was faced with a great spirit of responsibility by the anti-violence centres, which continued to welcome women and to provide support to get out of violence.

The complementary programming document containing the list of actions to be implemented in the three-year period 2021-2023, i.e. the operational plan, if our assumptions are true, will be symbolically presented in November, i.e. at the end of 2021, thus wasting a whole year’s worth of resources and actions!

The press anticipation foreshadows the contents of the future plan, the delay of which has penalised and continues to penalise anti-violence centres, both in terms of resources and in terms of future planning and design, which is fundamental in planning activities.

For more than thirty years we have been promoting training and projects aimed at understanding the phenomenon, acting in a network to deconstruct stereotypes that represent the root of violence, as it is finally recognised today.

If today violence is spoken and written about, recognition must be given to the women’s movement, from which D.i.Re originated, which has removed the phenomenon from silence.

However, this recognition is lacking on the part of the institutions that still today, as stated in the cited article, assign to anti-violence centres only the role of ‘service’, of accompanying women out of violence.

The reception of women, according to the principles of a well-structured and navigated method, respecting the anonymity, secrecy and self-determination of the individual woman welcomed, could not be effective if not accompanied by the awareness and political action on which each centre of the D.i.Re network bases its prevention, local activity, training, and projects aimed at recognising and overcoming the phenomenon.

The increase of awareness in the educational and training system on the structural roots, causes and consequences of violence against women, the promotion of the deconstruction of stereotypes that are at the basis of violence are reported in the article as priorities of intervention and we are very pleased. We wonder who will be assigned this onerous task of prevention, through which instruments and according to which criteria the selection and the choice will be made.

If the anticipations of the Plan contained in the article are true, we believe that an important opportunity has been missed to recognise the central role of anti-violence centres, defined as such by the Istanbul Convention, in the anti-violence system, and we are in a sad and dangerous line with some European countries which, with the intention of dealing institutionally with violence against women, have ended up assigning to anti-violence centres the neutral role of reception, often linked to emergency situations.

We hope to be proved wrong!”