Italy rallies to condemn violence against women draw huge crowds

Tens of thousands of people have taken part in protests across Italy, calling for an end to violence against women following the murder of a university student earlier this month.

Giulia Cecchettin was allegedly killed by her ex-boyfriend days before she was due to graduate.

Large crowds gathered in Milan and Naples, and there was gridlock in the centre of the capital, Rome.

Italy’s president said the murder of women could not be tolerated.

In a statement marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Sergio Mattarella said: “Dramatic news stories have shaken the country’s conscience.

“A human society that aspires to be civilised cannot accept, cannot endure, this string of attacks on women and murders,” he said, adding that violence against women was a failure of society.

Data from the Italian interior ministry shows that 106 women have so far been killed in the country this year, 55 of them allegedly by a partner or ex-partner.

The protests take place amid a backdrop of public anger and soul-searching over the murder of Ms Cecchettin, a 22-year-old biomedical engineering student who had been due to graduate from the University of Padua last week.

A number of events were planned for the day, including processions, runs, walks, flash mobs, sit-ins, and even free gynaecological examinations to raise awareness of gender-based violence and patriarchy in Italy.

Ms Cecchettin’s father, Gino Cecchettin, marked the day by addressing students at the University of Padua and unveiled a red bench on campus in memory of all victims of violence against women.

“Nothing will bring Giulia back, but I want many good initiatives to come out of her death,” he said.

Ms Cecchettin disappeared on 11 November when she and Filippo Turetta went to buy her graduation outfit.

The couple disappeared, but CCTV footage emerged a few days later showing Mr Turetta, 22, beating his former partner in a car park close to her house in Vigonovo, near Venice – according to the investigating judge.

Her body was found at the bottom of a ditch.

A large crowd of protesters in Naples holding a large red cloth
Image caption,Protesters taking part in a flash mob in Naples, one of many events planned to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Mr Turetta was arrested near Leipzig in Germany after police issued an international arrest warrant and launched a manhunt for him.

He returned to Italy on Saturday afternoon, and has not been formally charged yet.

According to the news site, Corriere del Veneto, he is being held in a prison in Verona, and a preliminary hearing has been set for Tuesday.

Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s first female prime minister, has expressed outrage at the country’s long history of violence against women by partners and ex-partners.

She has promised a new educational campaign in schools to combat what she says is Italy’s still-pervasive culture of misogynistic violence.

Female protester holding a sign that reads girls just wanna have fundamental human rights during demonstrations in Rome

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