It is the 26th of October. The 299th day of 2021. There are 67 days left until the end of the year. There have already been 25 murders and 9 attempted murders in Switzerland. During the last two weeks two 30 year old women were killed, one in Zurich by her 46 year old husband, the other by a 27 year old in Netstal (Glarus). A 53-year-old man in Vandoeuvres was detained for having shot his 58-year-old wife. On Thursday, October 21, a 20-year-old man in Solduno shot his ex-girlfriend, who was two years older than him. She, fortunately, survived. «Drama, grief and concern», as headlined by the editorial of the editor of CdT on Sunday. These are mind-boggling numbers. They show a different image of Switzerland. In this country a woman is killed every two weeks by her husband, partner, ex-partner, brother, son or a stranger - reads stopfemizid.ch -. Each week a woman survives an attempted murder. In exactly one month, on November 25, we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

When events like the one in Solduno happen, we return to the subject of violence. Prosecutors, psychiatrists, lawyers, criminologists are all interviewed. Questions are asked and groups are mobilized. Government authorities and agencies claim their achievements. However, the numbers actually speak for themselves. And the figures indicate that the problem of violence against women is wider than we think. «My client is a psychologically unstable boy, already for years,« said the lawyer of the 20-year-old man responsible for the assault in Locarno. The young man had been menacing in the summer and had been banned from contacting the young woman. Lawyer Daniele Jörg, president of the association «Consultorio delle donne», commented in La Domenica: «It would not be feasible to detain in advance or chain every person who threatens another - he explained -. There would not be enough space in prison and then, how long would you have to continue this kind of measure?

An electronic bracelet, which «does not deceive the victims»

The Swiss Federal Council has fixed the entry into force of the Federal Law to improve the protection of victims of violence to July 1. 2020. Legal changes included the coming into force of Article 28c of the Civil Code, which governs the use of electronic surveillance. And from 1. January 2022 it provides, also in the civil sphere, the use of the electronic bracelet with a passive surveillance. That is to say, it allows to monitor compliance with a prohibition issued by the magistrate after the fact. The data gathered by the GPS is analyzed and it is controlled whether the offender has violated, for instance, a certain «safety zone». A timely measure, but one that is by no means active surveillance. «We protect the personality of the person, but not his integrity - comments Frida Andreotti, director of the division of justice of the Department of Institutions -. We do not want to delude the victims, this type of bracelet is a means of evidence that does not serve to protect. But on some people it can certainly have a deterrent effect.»

Protection, prevention, prosecution and co-ordinated policies are among the strategic objectives at the political level. A task that is coordinated at the federal level and implemented at the cantonal level. Canton Ticino is expected to submit the message on the cantonal plan of action to counteract domestic violence in one month, on November 25, during the international anniversary, explains Andreotti. At the same time, the federal government has placed the federal plan in consultation. «It is important to realize the Istanbul Convention» which entered into force in Switzerland in April 2018. Moreover, in September, the Council of States (after the National) supported the creation of a professional nationwide counseling network, available online and by phone 24 hours a day for women victims of violence.

The feminist collective

At the same time, there is another who has made an «action plan» for the eradication of violence against women. It is a «feminist» plan of action of which the authors are members of the collective «Io l’8 ogni giorno». They are asking the Government of Ticino (among other things): That women can contact a specific emergency number that can be reached 24 hours a day; information campaigns; that the pharmacies and doctor’s offices be places where women can ask for help and can communicate their discomfort also with key words; that following action by the police there is the possibility for the woman to be contacted by the Consultorio or the Casa delle Donne; that there be an increased number of safe places and locations for women victims of violence as well as their children, and also more beds for men who are abusers; Men who are perpetrators of violent crimes will no longer be able to return home after the two-week period of separation required by law; women seeking to escape situations of violence will be guaranteed an emergency income; and targeted training and refresher courses for all professional figures who come into contact with victims of violence will be made compulsory; special attention will be paid to migrant women. « Generally speaking, what is really missing is the ability to welcome and listen to victims of violence - explains Angelica Lepori, from the collective -. There’ s also a difficulty in knowing who to turn to and it’ s always difficult to find your way among the services that are available». Lepori highlights also a series of problems «at the level of justice that tends to blame the victim, for example by asking the woman who has been raped if she made clear her ‘no’ to the man. A system that hides a culture for which the body of a woman is a body available. Or again when it goes in search of a psychological cause or a suffering at the base of an extreme gesture committed by a man, as to ‘’justify’’ in some way certain acts».

Awareness and education

The Director of the Justice Division in the Department of Institutions emphasizes that, in addition to preventive measures, work is already being done in our Canton on offenders. The Office of Rehabilitation Assistance is in charge of this, which generally performs a socio-educational function operating in the penal and post-criminal sphere by taking on, amongst other things, the counseling and support of people who have, or are presumed to have, experienced domestic violence. «When a person is removed from the home, there is a rule in the police law that permits this bureau to make contact with the perpetrator and discuss what happened. And too often these characters say, ‘yes, but it’s not that bad.’ The ensuing dialogue allows the person to choose to independently pursue an anti-violence program. And in these cases, voluntary action is the keystone, because it takes place with awareness». However, even in this case, the work is done after the fact. The institutions arrive later.

I agree that we should «educate to feelings» - concludes Andreotti - and that is another theme of the cantonal plan. Raising awareness, on both sides, is essential. Our work in the field of prevention also consists in helping to recognize when the relationship is unhealthy and how the couple should «operate». We must be concrete and pragmatic». A principle that Angelica Lepori shares: «We should educate people about affection and relationships. Prevention comes from sending clear messages: if I increase the number of services for listening to and caring for women, I send the message that as a society I do not accept these types of things and I protect the victims. What kind of message do I send - he adds - if I asked the rape victim how she was dressed or if I grant a gun license to a man who has mental problems? Our society has a duty to keep women safe from these situations».

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