Security is an issue that can make and break political careers both on the right and on the left—but if you were in Rome on Saturday, you could see clearly that the women marching through the streets were actually the ones doing what it takes to turn these streets into spaces where freedom reigns. The tide of demonstrators came in one small wave after another, coming from everywhere, from Lecce to Viareggio. At a glance, one could hardly take in the size of the procession with tens of thousands of banners and signs, held aloft above a sea of women.
The issue of anti-female violence has been the driving force for this noisy, powerful, well-organized and smiling mobilization, similar to the others in recent years, in a pattern that has held ever since the feminist movement was born. Because in Italy—like everywhere else in the world—the movement was born because of violence: from abortion rights to sexual abuse, awareness has never stopped growing and we have never stopped speaking out.
We have learned to recognize this violence, but we are still unable to save its victims. Femicide is a crime that is not following the general downward trend of criminality overall. If in 2017 there were no less than 50,000 requests for help made to the anti-domestic-violence centers, this means that the tide of women that took to the streets Saturday was carrying on their shoulders the weight of an appalling phenomenon, one that represents nothing less than the will to annihilate women and children, as well as the litany of horrors that consumes the lives of those who will not submit to beatings and ill-treatment, who file complaints and make dramatic pleas for help—which often prove futile.
The current government—one that is at the forefront of the fight against the rights of those who can least defend themselves—plans to cut the funding for initiatives against gender-based violence (“by only 2.7 percent,” in the words of Undersecretary Spadafora, undoubtedly meant to be reassuring), ignoring what is happening in the country (maybe they’re too busy to read the newspapers over at the Palazzo Chigi). If it wasn’t for the volunteers who are keeping the women’s shelters going, this country-wide massacre would have an even more horrifying death toll.
But what is lacking is more than just money. Lega supporters of all ranks are organizing demonstrations against abortion rights, and it even happens nowadays that “pro-life” initiatives get funded by the votes of women from the Democratic Party, as happened last month in the Verona city council. This so-called left, and those who claim to represent it, is light years away from the girls who marched Saturday. But these marchers are what real politics is: a young politics that is being shut out by the institutions and the powers-that-be.