Take off the mask and speak up.
This is the message that lawyer Alessia Sorgato wants to spread through “Giu Le Mani dalle Donne” or “Hands Off Women”, a book that on June 14 won the 40° Casentino Literary Award- an Italian festival that celebrates emerging journalism and literature that matters.
“Giu Le Mani dalle Donne” is divided in seven chapters. Each one focuses on seven types of violence (homicide, rape, personal assault, domestic violence, stalking, cyber crimes against women and children, divorce condition violation) and analyses juridical ways to overcome the situation.
“My professional experience suggests to me that women speak up either because they know their rights, or are aware of the tools and organizations that will help them,” says Sorgato to IO Donna magazine.
In 2013, a woman was reported dead every two days. Seven out of 10 crimes were committed inside family or relationship.
According to the recent report on the Italian National Institute of Statistics, ISTAT, over 6.7 million women in Italy have been victims of physical violence in their lifetime.
“In the last five years physical or sexual violence has gone from 13.3 percent to 11.3 percent,” writes Maria Giuseppina Muratori in the most recent press release published on the ISTAT website. “This is a result of a better information, the field work, but also a better ability of women to prevent and fight the phenomena.”
“This is not just a book, it is a handbook for you to keep,” says Sorgato during a book signing-event in February at the Palazzo delle Opere Sociali in Vicenza, Italy, in front of an audience of about 50 people.
In conversation with Lawyer Lucia Fazzina and ONLUS President Laura Zanichelli, Sorgato used simple language to share her professional experiences with the goal of spreading the confidence to say STOP.
“It is common believe among women not to sue their aggressor thinking to protect their child,” Sorgato says. “Let me tell you, you are actually making the situation worse. Most judges will see this as lack of common sense that put the life of the child at risk. If you don’t speak up, social services may take them from you!”
With the goal of empowering women to speak up, five of Sorgato’s clients decided to share their story:
C.H, 31, victim of domestic violence.
After multiple attacks from her husband that endangered also the safety of their child, C.H. decided to move to her mother’s apartment and sue the aggressor. “He even bit me when I was pregnant … and in front of his mom that once helped him by holding me,” C.H. said.
A first-degree trial is on and a restraining order protecting C.H. from her ex-husband is in place.
S.F, 29, victim of domestic violence.
“One night, when I was asleep, he kicked me in the face so hard I had to go to the hospital. The doctors told me it was a miracle that I was alive”, says S.F. “I gave birth to a butterfly baby. Most of the butterfly mamas are victims of violence. Is this by chance?”
S.F. didn’t sue her ex-boyfriend, but ensured he was receiving help from specialized doctors.
M.T, 47, victim of attempted murder.
M.T. husband tried to set her on fire with gasoline. “I was able to escape because he was drunk. I remember he kept trying to light up cigarettes, while I was crawling on the floor with a broken elbow”, she said.
M.T’s ex-husband is currently in prison and on trial. The public ministry asked for 14 years reclusion.
A.S, 44, victim of stalking, rape and extortion.
“We were dating. He started to follow me […] he threated me of posting naked pictures of me, if I didn’t give him money”, A.S. said. “One day, I went to the police reporting he was following me. They didn’t take me seriously”.
Convicted and sentenced to 7-years, but he is walking on the streets.
B.R, 43, victim of domestic violence.
The father of her child is in constant fight with B.R. Once he caused her a transverse process fracture, while she was holding the 16-month-old child. “He didn’t want to acknowledge the baby at first”, she said. “Now I have to deal with social services to communicate and schedule who and when is going to have the baby”.
Pending first-degree trial for B.R’s ex-boyfriend.