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Volunteers say number of women murdered rose in 2013

Statistics released on eve of International Women's Day

07 March, 19:24
Volunteers say number of women murdered rose in 2013 (ANSA) - Rome, March 7 - On the eve of International Women's Day, informal statistics gathered by volunteers and released on Friday suggested an increase in the number of murders of woman last year.

According to a Bologna woman's shelter, 134 females were murdered in Italy in 2013, higher than the annual average of 116 murders when rates for the previous nine years were assembled.

The informal survey found that in 70% of cases where women were murdered, the culprits were men, with a high number in the age group of 36 to 45 years.

In 58% of cases last year, the accused killer was a current or former partner of the victim.

The survey also found that prostitutes were not necessarily more likely to be victims as the number reported murdered last year was 13.

The statistics came as police arrested a man Friday for allegedly killing a woman and son after a vicious sexual assault earlier this week in Milan.

Also Friday, a 44-year-old man was arrested in the death of his wife who was pushed down the stairs in her home.

The problem of violence against women must be dealt with through better education and a more positive media presentation of women, said House Speaker Laura Boldrini.

"The issue is...complex and cultural and each must do its part, including the media, where often the woman is represented as a secondary figure," Boldrini said outside a conference in Todi.

She added that she felt "optimistic" of change because she said that young people are open to new attitudes "and are ready to do their part".

Boldrini herself has been the target of some gender-related abuse and threats of violence from political opponents. Earlier this week, the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks defined as "clearly misogynistic" an online post by 5-Star Movement (M5S) head Beppe Grillo criticizing Boldrini.

The post in question contained a video with the title: "What would you do alone in a car with Boldrini?", which showed a man driving and talking to a cut-out of the Speaker.

It followed Boldrini's unprecedented decision to stop a filibuster by members of the M5S. Boldrini has also been the target of threats and insults from the anti-immigration Northern League since taking office in March 2013.

Boldrini, the former spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency, has made no secret of wanting to use her position to promote women's issues and gender equality.