With the help of a new map of the Rome underground and a video that went viral and topped news bulletins, Italy marked the international day of love Tuesday by focusing on domestic violence and stalking.
The map, created by digital artist and marketer Maria Beatrice Alonzi, shows the police stations closest to each stop in the Italian capital, graphically underlining a message that help is at hand.
“Today is a day when many people are only thinking about chocolate and flowers but there are other very important things to talk about,” Alonzi, 33, told AFP.
“I don’t know about other countries but, in Italy, for many women it is a day that just adds to the pressure on them — why don’t they have a boyfriend, why don’t they have a perfect figure?
“And for women who are subject to domestic violence it is so much worse because they feel so scared, so absolutely and definitively alone.”
More than 120 women were killed by partners in Italy last year and cases of stalking and jealousy-inspired violence are frequently highlighted in the media as a major social problem born of a particularly macho culture.
– Police backing –
Such outcomes and the need to highlight a way to stop them led to the “If love hurts” theme of the campaign.
“So that was the idea of the video — a woman in the crowds on the metro, but she is completely alone. And maybe the map can make her think, just for a moment, that freedom and happiness are within reach, that she can go, on foot, to one of the police stations.”
Alonzi’s initiative has won the backing of the national police force, which launched its own awareness campaign on the issue last year, and the Rome city authorities.
“Maybe it is not a message people want to hear on this of all days, but I woke up this morning to find the video had been seen 100,000 times just on the Facebook page,” Alonzi said.
“And I’ve had hundreds of messages from women who have been been beaten by their partners. I have been crying my eyes out all morning.”
The EU’s fundamental rights agency said last year that the level of violence against women in Italy was broadly in line with its European neighbours.
National data also suggests the incidence of violence against women has fallen in recent years as willingness to report it has grown.