The 25 November is the International Day Against Violence against Women . Events and meetings are organized throughout Italy to raise public awareness and prevent cases of violence against women and children. The phenomena of gender and family violence in particular, do not hint at diminishing, on the contrary, it is a phenomenon that often develops between the walls of the house, in closed and "protected" environments.
The main perpetrators of violence against them are most often the husband or partner. Types of physical violence can range from slapping to punching, forced sexual intercourse, sexual harassment and rape, to kicking but also to real torture, or scarring with a knife or acid ... up to pure and simple murder with beatings, with stabbings, strangulations and gunshots.
Even a pregnancy does not stop the violence, in fact in 7,5% of cases it is pregnancy that triggers the wrath of man. Violence is often accompanied by psychological harassment, by the state of awe and harassment.
This stems from an idea that is still deeply rooted in society, that of a relationship understood as a possession. The woman is perceived as a thing (object) that man possesses and if that "thing" starts to annoy, wanting to be autonomous, or to move away, it must be crushed, eliminated or trampled on.
Gender-based violence affects an impressive number of women from all social and cultural backgrounds. Our site, due to its characteristics, has decided to dwell on the particular case of immigrant women. Women often doubly discriminated: because women and because they are foreigners.
They are women who come from Eastern Europe (Albania, Romania, Macedonia, Ukraine ...), women from North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt), from Sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal ...) or from South America (Peru, Ecuador ...), from Asia (China, India, Pakistan. Bangladesh ...), they can be refugees, women who come in search of work or to be reunited with a husband or other family member.
Those that arrive with the wheels of irregular migration already encounter violence during their long and arduous journey: exposed to sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies and the risk of forcibly entering prostitution and servile labor circuits.
There are girls, often very young, who can suffer physical and psychological violence, because they arrive through forced marriages.
There are women and girls who are employed more often in the area of so-called 3D jobs: dangerous, demanding and degrading.
According to the International Labor Organization, people working in the domestic sector doing cleaning or nursing jobs are 67,1 million. The 73% of these are women or girls and one in six is a migrant. Often, in this field, foreign women find themselves in disadvantaged conditions and deprived of rights with respect to native workers. Some of them work in the countryside, completely isolated. Often without a residence permit or in a state of great need, they can be blackmailed, paid little, work in degrading conditions and can be fired at any time. As a result, they are oppressed and discriminated against and often suffer all kinds of harassment and abuse in silence.
The condition of a foreign woman far from her family environment and poorly informed about the operations of the host society makes them even more fragile. Often the documents such as the residence permit and passport, from her husband, parents or various exploiters are torn and hidden. The intent is to prevent them from escaping. They are threatened with being sent away, to their country as shameless women and unable to respect their husbands and families. The threat of separation from their children is also a chain that keeps many of these women tied.
They suffer forms of devaluation and submission and the signs remain on the body and psychic level. They suffer from concentration, memory loss, loss of self-esteem, loneliness. The economic violence within the couple also affects the 4,6% of women.
Only a small percentage of women can report the violence suffered. They are afraid and feel shame towards their family and the community. Sometimes they do not know the laws that defend their rights, they do not know the structures that can help them. Only in severe cases, when they go to the emergency room in the hospital, after suffering serious violence, they take the courage to report it. As a sample we take the city of Asti, in Piedmont, a small-medium town of less than 80 thousand inhabitants where only in the 2017 year were 50 complaints about family maltreatment exposed. A figure that should not be underestimated. But the fact remains that many of these complaints are withdrawn after two or three weeks, often because the extended family (parents, in-laws ...) presses not to break the "family cohesion" and husbands promise that they will never repeat violence. Promises unfortunately almost never kept.
Foreign women who suffer violence are silent women, sometimes invisible. We, as social workers, have the duty to bring them closer to services, to offer the right information and tools, to find the courage to break the handcuffs of slavery and walk free. Many have done it.
But we must not forget that violence is also fought at school. We need to teach the new generations that the society in which we live is made up of free men and women with equal rights.
Read also: World day against violence against women
This article was originally published in mediatoreinterculturale.it , the information body of theMulticultural Association of Intercultural Mediators
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