Photo of a migrant woman to illustrate the plan of Italian association D.i.Re and UNHCR against sexual and gender-based violence | Credit: website UNHCR
Photo of a migrant woman to illustrate the plan of Italian association D.i.Re and UNHCR against sexual and gender-based violence | Credit: website UNHCR

The association D.i.Re (Donne in rete contro la violenza, or women network against violence) and the UN refugee agency have presented a series of proposals to improve the response provided by Italy's anti-violence system to female migrants and asylum seekers. The organizations stressed that these women remain largely "invisible" within the Italian anti-violence system.

The association D.i.Re (women network against violence) and the UN refugee agency UNHCR on December 15 presented "strategic proposals to improve the response of the Italian anti-violence system to the specific needs of female migrants and asylum seekers who have suffered abuse."

The document was drafted thanks to a project by D.i.Re called "Leaving violence. Living safe" that started in 2017 with the support of UNHCR. The project helped refugee and asylum seeking women get help from anti-violence centers run by D.i.Re.

'Invisible' migrants, refugees

At the presentation of the proposals, participants stressed that women who have applied for asylum or are refugees in Italy remain largely "invisible", or remain confined withing anti-trafficking projects, which however concern only part of them.

As reported in a statement released on December 15, the proposals include "a national anti-violence plan to help the inclusion of female migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in programs to help them overcome abuse, including training and the participation of female mediators as members of teams operating in anti-violence centers."

Other proposals regarded the coordination between "institutions and organizations at a different national and local level, including anti-violence and anti-trafficking organizations, institutions in charge of international protection, civil society organizations such as associations of migrants and refugees, social and health services and employment agencies." The aim is to create teams that can "support female asylum seekers and refugees to optimize existing resources and boost social inclusion and autonomy."

Proposals for a three-year anti-violence national plan

"The drafting of a new three-year national anti-violence plan (which is being renewed in Italy) is a precious occasion to rethink the Italian anti-violence system in a more integrated and inclusive way, enhancing and supporting the work already being done by anti-violence centers to identify and support migrant, asylum seeking and refugee women who are victims of violence'', said Antonella Veltri, president of D.i.Re.

Chiara Cardoletti, the UNHCR representative for Italy, the Holy See and San Marino, said that ''UNHCR and D.i.Re work together to give concrete answers that can help the many female asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in Italy after surviving gender violence overcome the trauma of abuse," she said.

"The objective is to quickly identify them so they can gain access to anti-violence centers and get adequate assistance. To reach this objective, we are ready to support the ministry for equal opportunities in drafting a three-year anti-violence plan so everyone has the opportunity to make a fresh start," Cardoletti added.

The equal opportunities and family minister, Elena Bonetti, highlighted the need to "promote coherence between national anti-violence and anti-trafficking plans, which are both being renewed."

The minister also said it was necessary to "deal with the challenge of discovering the invisible violence endured by migrant and refugee women, also thanks to the new law on gender statistics which has just been presented in Parliament."


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