Charity director calls for harsher domestic violence penalties
ROME-- I met with Bo Guerreschi, the founder and director of the domestic violence charity, ‘Bon’t worry,’ which aims to provide financial, psychological, legal and medical assistance for victims. Guerreschi outlined the root causes of the domestic violence crisis in Italy at the moment, and how these problems interact with her charity.
In April, Italian newspapers were filled with alarming stories of domestic violence, most notably during the week when no less than four women were killed by male partners, neighbours and strangers. It begs the question of why these stories are still commonplace in 2017, and what kind of solution the Italian government is offering.
For Guerreschi, it’s the failures of government, and its legal system, that are to blame for these tragedies. She explains that their response is neither quick nor definitive enough. For example, from the date that instances of physical or emotional violence are reported, it can take a year for any kind of official response to materialise. Once this response is given, and the case is taken to court, often there’s a fear on the part of the judge or prosecutor to condemn the man as guilty, argues Guerreschi. The charity founder called for those in positions of power to take the problem more seriously, accusing them for being weak in their actions.
Her accusations are not unfounded, however, as the laws currently in place are clearly not effective. In October 2013, the government introduced harsher laws criminalising domestic violence, yet four years later the problem is as prevalent as ever.
Italy has always been worryingly behind other European countries in its response to domestic violence. Until 1981, there was special consideration in the penal code for a ‘delitto d’onore’- granting leniency in judging the murder of “spouses, daughters and sisters caught in illicit sex.” It’s clear that there’s still a hangover from these archaic laws. Guerreschi argues that if the peninsula’s backwards attitude is to ever change, the government is going to have to take its own laws seriously, and impose harsher sentences on those guilty of domestic violence.
Recently, ‘Bon’t worry’ has established itself in London, the USA and the UAE, with all three countries offering a quicker and more positive response to the charity’s work than in Italy.
Bo hopes that the recent spike in gendered murders will open the eyes of politicians and public prosecutors, so that the work of the charity can be as effective in peninsula as it has been in other countries across the globe.