Transcript. Below is the entire text of the speech Gino Cecchettin gave at his daughter’s memorial service.

The father of Giulia Cecchettin: ‘We must turn this tragedy into a push for change’

Dear all,

We have experienced a time of deep agony: a terrible storm has swept over us, and still this rain of sorrow seems like it will never end. We have been soaked in it, freezing, but I thank the many people who have gathered around us to bring us the warmth of their embrace.

I apologize that I cannot acknowledge each of them personally, but once again, thank you all for your support that we needed during these terrible weeks.

My gratitude also goes out to all the law enforcement agencies, the bishop and the monks who are hosting us, Regional President Zaia and Minister Nordio, and the institutions that worked together to help my family.

My daughter Giulia, she was an extraordinary young woman, just as you knew her. Cheerful, lively, with an endless thirst for learning.

She embraced the responsibility of taking care of the family after the untimely loss of her beloved mother.

In addition to the degree she earned, which we will receive in a few days, Giulia also earned the honorary title of “mother” herself. Despite her young age, she had already become a fighter, a hoplite like the ancient Greek soldiers, steadfast in times of trouble: her indomitable spirit inspired us all.

Femicide is often the result of a culture that devalues the lives of women, victims of the same men who should have loved them – but instead they are harassed, forced into long periods of abuse until they completely lose their freedom, and even go on to lose their lives.

How could this happen? How could this happen to Giulia? There are many who bear responsibility, but when it comes to education, we are all responsible: families, schools, civil society, the media world…

I will address men first, because first of all it is us who need to show that we are agents of change against gender-based violence. Let us speak to other men we know, challenging the culture that tends to minimize violence committed by seemingly normal men.

We need to be actively involved, challenging the watering down of responsibility, listening to women, and not turning our heads at even the tiniest signs of violence. Our personal actions are crucial to breaking the cycle and creating a culture of accountability and support.

To parents like me, I speak from the heart: let’s teach our sons the value of sacrifice and commitment, and also help them accept failure. Let us create in our families the kind of climate that fosters peaceful dialogue, so that it will become possible to educate our sons in respecting the sacredness of each person, sexuality free from all possession and true love that seeks only the good of the other.

We live in an age in which technology is connecting us in extraordinary ways, but often, unfortunately, it isolates us and deprives us of real human contact.

It is essential that young people learn to communicate authentically, to look into the eyes of others, to open themselves up to the experience of those older than themselves.

Lack of genuine human connection can lead to misunderstandings and tragic decisions. We need to regain the ability to listen and be heard, to really communicate with empathy and respect.

Schools play a vital role in the education of our sons. We need to invest in educational programs that teach mutual respect, the importance of healthy relationships and the ability to handle conflict constructively, so they can learn how to deal with difficulties without resorting to violence. Preventing gender-based violence starts in the family but continues in the classroom, and we need to make sure that schools are safe and inclusive places for all.

The media also play a crucial role, and they need to do so responsibly. Spreading distorted and sensationalist news not only fuels a morbid atmosphere, giving space to schemers and manipulators, but can also help perpetuate violent behavior.

Washing your hands, seeking justifications, defending patriarchy when someone has the strength – and desperation – to call it out by its name, turning victims into targets just because they say something you may not agree with – all this doesn’t help to break down barriers. Because we can only escape this kind of violence, which only appears to be strictly personal and senseless, if we feel that we’re all involved. Even when it would be easy to feel absolved of it.

I call on political institutions to put aside ideological differences and make a united front to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence.

We need laws and educational programs aimed at preventing violence, protecting victims and ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable. Law enforcement must be equipped with the resources to actively combat this scourge and the tools to recognize the danger.

But in this moment of grief and sorrow, we must find the strength to react, to turn this tragedy into a push for change.

The life of Giulia, my Giulia, was cruelly taken from us, but her death can and indeed MUST be the turning point to end the terrible scourge of violence against women. Thank you all for being here today: may Giulia’s memory inspire us to work together to create a world in which no one ever has to fear for their lives.

I want to read you a poem by Gibran that I think can give us a real picture of how we need to learn to live:

“True love is neither physical nor romantic.

True love is the acceptance of all that is,

has been, will be and will not be.

Those that are happiest are not necessarily

those who have the best of everything,

but those who make the best of what they have.

Life is not about how to survive the storm,

but about how to dance in the rain…”

Dear Giulia,

The time has come to let you go. Say hi to your mother.

I think of you hugging her, and I have hope that when you hold each other tight, your love will be so strong that it will help Elena, Davide and even myself, not only to survive this storm of grief that has swept over us, but also to learn how to dance in the rain.

Yes, the three of us who are still here promise you that, little by little, we will learn to take dance steps in this rain.

Dear Giulia, thank you for these 22 years we have lived out together and for the endless tenderness you have gifted us. I love you too, so much, and Elena and Davide love you too.

I don’t know how to pray, but I know how to hope. Here I want to hope together with you and Mom, I want to hope together with Elena and Davide, and I want to hope together with all of you here: I want to hope that all this rain of sorrow will fertilize the soil of our lives.

And I want to hope that one day it will sprout.

And I want to hope that it will bear the fruit of love, forgiveness and peace.

Goodbye, Giulia, my love.

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