The father of Giulia Cecchetin implored men during her funeral in the northern city of Padua on Tuesday to be “agents of change” in a culture that often “undervalues the lives of women”.
Outside, thousands of mourners rang bells and shook keys, part of a campaign to “make noise” against gender violence.
The movement has grown in the weeks since the 22-year-old was found dead, her throat slit, in a ditch in a remote area of the Alpine foothills on 18 November. She had disappeared along with her ex-boyfriend a week earlier after meeting him for a burger.
21-year-old Filippo Turetta was later arrested in Germany and is being held in an Italian jail amid an investigation. Turetta has not commented publicly, but his lawyer told reporters that he admitted to the crime under prosecutors’ questioning.
Femicide in the EU
Cecchetin is among 102 women murdered through mid-November this year in Italy, more than half by current or former intimate partners, according to the Interior Ministry.
There are no comprehensive statistics on the prevalence of gender-based violence against women in the EU, given the difference in legal definitions and data collection systems.
The European Institute of Gender Equality, however, estimated that in 2017, 29 per cent of intentional female homicides in the EU were of women who were victims of their intimate partners.
In Italy, the percentage was 43.9 per cent, according to the institute.
Breaking the cycle
Some 10,000 mourners, including Italy’s justice minister, gathered for Cecchetin’s funeral Mass at Padua’s Santa Giustina cathedral, with thousands spilling out into the piazza. Many wore ribbons representing the campaign to stop femicide, the killing of women.
“Femicide often results from a culture that devalues the lives of women, victims of those that should have loved them. Instead, they were harassed, forced into long periods of abuse until they completely lose their liberty, before they also lose their lives,’’ the young woman’s father, Gino Cecchetin, told mourners.
“How could all of this happen? How could this have happened to Giulia?”
He called on families, schools, civil society and the media to “break a cycle.”
“I turn first to men because we should first demonstrate to be agents of change against gender violence,’’ he said, urging men to listen to women and not turn away from any signs of violence - “even the slightest.”
He remembered his daughter as “an extraordinary young woman. Happy. Lively. Never tired of learning,’’ who stepped in to take over household duties, alongside university studies, after her mother died of cancer last year.
She will soon be posthumously awarded a degree in bioengineering, which she had recently completed at the University of Padua.