In Padua, Italy, the funeral of 22-year-old Giulia Cecchettin, a victim of femicide, was held at the Basilica of Santa Giustina, drawing a large crowd including public officials, fellow students, and citizens. Cecchettin, a biomedical engineering student at the University of Padua, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Filippo Turetta, a fact he confessed to before a judge, as stated by his lawyer. This incident has sparked widespread national attention and discussions about violence against women in Italy.
Under overcast skies, Cecchettin’s coffin, adorned with roses, was brought into the basilica. The crowd outside included Italy’s justice minister among other dignitaries. Gino Cecchettin, Giulia’s father, delivered a eulogy emphasizing the need for a societal shift to combat violence against women. He called for men to actively oppose cultural norms that downplay male violence.
The murder, which occurred just before Cecchettin’s graduation, made headlines across Italy, inciting a period of introspection about gender-based violence. The couple had been missing since November 11, with Turetta found in Germany a week later, shortly after Cecchettin’s body was discovered near Lake Barcis. The autopsy report, as cited by local media, revealed she suffered over 20 stab wounds.
Outside the basilica, Angela Russo, a 29-year-old student, expressed the sentiment that any woman could have been in Cecchettin’s position. She underscored the urgency of public demonstration against such violence. Nationwide, protests demanding cultural change occurred on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni addressed women on Facebook, offering support and reminding them of resources available for victims of violence and stalking.
Statistics from Italy’s interior ministry as of November 26 show that out of 107 murdered women in 2023, 88 were killed by family or intimate partners. However, inconsistencies in data collection make it difficult to compare these figures with other European countries.
Following Cecchettin’s death, the Italian parliament passed legislation to strengthen protection for women, but critics argue that deeper cultural change is needed, including education about gender violence in schools.
Despite increased attention, gender-based violence persists in Italy, a country where traditional gender roles are prevalent, female workforce participation is lower than the EU average, and access to abortion services is limited. A July 2021 government report highlighted that while a majority disapprove of violence, in some regions, up to 50% of men find it acceptable in relationships.
Fabio Roia, the president of the Tribunal of Milan, emphasized in a recent speech the need for ongoing efforts to address this issue, highlighting the cultural and social roots of gender-based violence and the persisting gender power imbalances.
A 2020 report assessing Italy’s adherence to the Council of Europe’s convention on preventing violence against women called for more awareness campaigns and improved training for professionals. The report also recommended proactive measures to change sexist social and cultural behaviors, particularly among men and young boys, that stem from perceived female inferiority.