Italy’s first female Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, is facing mounting criticism for her government’s approach to addressing gender-based violence and nepotism within her party, Brothers of Italy. Critics argue that while Meloni champions “family values,” her policies and comments fall short of adequately protecting women from violence and promoting gender equality.
Meloni’s recent visit to the crime-ridden suburb of Caivano, where she promised a “radical reclamation” of the area following an alleged gang rape of pre-teen cousins, highlighted the issue of sexual violence against women and girls in Italy. However, her traditional family agenda, which includes efforts to remove same-sex parents from birth certificates and criminalize surrogacy, has drawn attention away from critical gender-related issues.
The situation was further exacerbated by comments made by her partner, Andrea Giambruno, a journalist, who suggested that some victims of sexual violence were at fault for their circumstances. Giambruno’s victim-blaming remarks sparked outrage, especially when discussing a recent case of a 19-year-old woman allegedly gang-raped by seven men.
Despite the backlash, Meloni defended Giambruno’s comments during a press conference, claiming they were misunderstood. She stated that his remarks were about cautioning against potential dangers, rather than blaming victims directly.
However, the Telefono Rosa hotline for domestic violence reported a 25% increase in gang-related gender-based violence in 2023 compared to the previous year, primarily perpetrated by younger offenders.
Critics from Opposition
Critics from the opposition Democratic party, led by Elly Shlein, accuse Meloni’s government of systematically punishing women during her first year in office. They argue that her policies threaten women’s achievements in self-determination, including the right to health, education, and work, as well as reproductive rights and parenthood.
Meloni has also faced criticism for not addressing gender-related killings in the country, with the 78th such murder occurring in Rome during her tenure. Differenza Donna, an association focusing on women’s rights, reports that an Italian woman is murdered by someone she knows every three days.
Amid these concerns, Meloni’s focus on her family’s role in politics has raised eyebrows. Her sister, Arianna, was recently promoted within the Brothers of Italy party, leading to accusations of nepotism. Francesco Lollobridgida, Meloni’s brother-in-law, serves as Italy’s Minister of Agriculture.
Despite the criticism, Meloni maintains popularity in some quarters. In her childhood neighborhood of Garbatella, locals praise her resilience and leadership. However, the ongoing debate over her government’s stance on gender issues and nepotism is likely to continue shaping her tenure in office, amid the broader challenges of irregular migration and shifting political dynamics.
As Italy grapples with these complex issues, the spotlight remains on Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s leadership and her government’s commitment to addressing pressing concerns facing women in the country.