Rape and Domestic Violence: The prescribed penalty for rape, including spousal rape, is five to 12 years in prison. The law criminalizes the physical abuse of women (including by family members), provides for the prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women, and helps shield abused women from publicity. Judicial protective measures for violence occurring within a family allow for an ex parte application to a civil court judge in urgent cases. Police officers and judicial authorities prosecuted perpetrators of violence against women, but survivors frequently declined to press charges due to fear, shame, or ignorance of the law. A specific law on stalking includes mandatory detention for acts of sexual violence, including by partners. The law leaves responsibility for the provision of shelter to victims with local municipalities, some of which did not provide sufficient funds for shelters.
Between March 2014 and March 2015, authorities received 3,624 reports of cases of sexual violence, of which 91 percent were against women, and 11,223 cases of domestic violence, of which 82 percent were against women. According to a study by the independent research center Demoskopika released in March, almost 23,000 cases of violence against women occurred between 2010 and 2014, of which 6,000 were against minors. Between January 2015 and May 2016, 155 women were killed by their partners or former partners. Police arrested almost 22,000 persons accused of these crimes.
The Department of Equal Opportunity operated a hotline for victims of violence seeking immediate assistance and temporary shelter. The department also operated a hotline for victims of stalking. Between January and June, the department received approximately 16,600 calls, of which women placed 90 percent. The Ministry of Interior reported it received 9,875 complaints for stalking between January and July, 78 percent of which were made against men. Police took action against 1,385 perpetrators and in 285 cases ordered stalkers to leave the municipalities where victims lived.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C was a problem in some immigrant communities. It is a crime punishable by up to 12 years’ imprisonment. Most of the mutilations were performed outside the country. Some victims were subjected to infibulation by relatives, very often without anesthesia or with rudimentary scalpels. Experts estimated that the increase in the number of new arrivals from the Gambia, Nigeria, Sudan, and Senegal resulted in an increase in the number of victims of FGM/C in migrant and refugee communities, but statistics were not available. The Department for Equal Opportunities operated a hotline for victims and other affected parties who requested the support of authorities and NGOs.
Sexual Harassment: Minor cases of verbal sexual harassment in public are punishable by up to six months’ incarceration and a fine of up to 516 euros ($568). The government effectively enforced the law. By government decree, emotional abuse based on gender discrimination is a crime. Many victims failed to report incidents to authorities. Police investigated reports of harassment that were submitted to authorities.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men. The government enforced laws prohibiting every form of discrimination in all sectors. There were reports of discrimination against women with respect to employment and occupation.
Birth Registration: A child acquires citizenship automatically when the parents are citizens, when the parents of children born in the country’s territory are unknown or stateless, or when the parents are foreigners whose countries of origin do not recognize the citizenship of their children born abroad. Citizenship is also granted if a child is abandoned in the country and in cases of adoption. Local authorities required immediate birth registration. Unaccompanied minors entering the country automatically receive a residence permit.
Child Abuse: In 2015 Telefono Azzurro, an NGO that advocates for children’s rights, received calls reporting 2,680 cases of child abuse and 116 cases of missing children. An additional 2,067 cases were reported to a hotline of the Department of Equal Opportunity operated by Telefono Azzurro.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 18, but juvenile courts may authorize marriages for individuals as young as 16. According to NGOs, hundreds of women were victims of forced marriages, especially among Asian and African immigrant communities.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): See information in the women’s section above.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Authorities enforced the laws prohibiting sexual exploitation, the sale of children, offering or procuring a child for prostitution, and practices related to child pornography. Independent observers and the government estimated at least 2,500 foreign minors were victims of sexual exploitation. In 2015 authorities arrested 68 persons accused of exploiting minors for prostitution and investigated another 370 persons.
Between January 2015 and April 12, the National Center for the Fight against Child Pornography, a special unit within the postal and communications division of the National Police, monitored 23,981 websites and shut down 1,849. Authorities reported 574 persons to prosecutors and arrested 79 for crimes involving online child pornography. On August 23, police, in collaboration with Europol and authorities from 24 EU member states, arrested 75 persons suspected of establishing an international network to share child pornography and put another 100 under investigation.
The minimum age for consensual sex varies from 13 to 16, based on the relationship between partners.
Displaced Children: The Ministry of Interior reported that, between January and October 10, approximately 10,300 unaccompanied minors arrived in the country. As of August 31, approximately 8,900 were hosted in protected communities. Of the total, 23 percent were Egyptians, 15 percent Albanians, and 10 percent Gambians.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
There were approximately 30,000 Jews in the country. Anti-Semitic societal prejudices persisted. Some extremist fringe groups were responsible for anti-Semitic remarks and actions, including vandalism and publication of anti-Semitic material on the internet.
The Observatory on Anti-Semitism of the Foundation of Contemporary Jewish Documentation reported that on May 22, an unknown person punched a Jewish boy scout after shouting anti-Semitic insults against a group of scouts in Milan.
In its Spring 2016 Global Attitudes Survey released on July 11, the Pew Research Center reported that 24 percent of respondents in the country held an unfavorable opinion of the Jewish minority, compared to 69 percent who held an unfavorable opinion of Muslims and 82 percent who held an unfavorable opinion of Roma in the country. The report primarily explored European public opinion related to migration and terrorism but highlighted negative perceptions of other minority groups across the continent.
Anti-Semitic slogans and graffiti appeared in some cities, including Rome and Viareggio. Internet hate speech and bullying were the most common forms of anti-Semitic attacks, according to the Center for Jewish Contemporary Documentation.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, the judicial system, and the provision of other government services. The government enforced these provisions, but there were incidents of societal and employment discrimination.
Although the law mandates access to government buildings for persons with disabilities, physical barriers, particularly in public transit, continued to pose challenges, especially in the south. Many cities lacked infrastructure (such as subway elevators, cable railway stations, and ramps on sidewalks) for persons using wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Many municipalities provided free transportation to persons with disabilities who requested it.
Societal violence and discrimination against Roma, Sinti, Caminanti, and other ethnic minorities remained a problem. In its June 7 report on the country, ECRI asserted, “The law does not criminalize discrimination on grounds of color or language, and the penalties provided for are not always an effective, proportionate and dissuasive response to offenses involving racism and racial discrimination.” In 2014 the National Office to Combat Racial Discrimination received 252 cases of alleged discrimination based on race or ethnicity; prosecutors opened investigations of the alleged perpetrators in 99 cases. There were reports of discrimination in occupation and employment based on race or ethnicity.
The press and NGOs reported cases of demagoguery, violent attacks, forced evictions from unauthorized camps, municipal mistreatment, and government efforts to remove Romani children from their parents. In its June 7 report, ECRI expressed concerns about the lack of uniformity in the integration of foreigners and Romani communities and the delays in the implementation of the 2012 Strategy on the Integration of Roma, Sinti, and Caminanti Communities. In particular, ECRI found the segregation of Romani communities in special camps and the inadequate living conditions there constituted a violation of human rights. It quoted a report by UNAR and the Association of Italian Municipalities released in October 2015 that almost 80 percent of Roma in the major cities lived in settlements, 36 percent of which were not authorized. The NGO Sant’Egidio estimated that between 120,000 and 150,000 Roma, 70,000 of whom were citizens, were concentrated on the fringes of urban areas in the central and southern parts of the country.
According to the NGO Associazione 21 Luglio, housing remained a serious concern for 35,000 Roma, most of whom were foreigners. Some of them, including elderly persons and persons with disabilities, were evicted from illegal encampments by local authorities that did not always provide adequate housing. On June 24, AI and other NGOs condemned the transfer by local authorities of 75 Romani families (approximately 300 persons) from a camp in Giuliano, near Naples, to a former fireworks factory (which exploded in 2015). Authorities decided to close the original camp, established in 2013, after reports surfaced it had been built near a toxic waste dump. AI claimed that the decision was a case of forced eviction, because the municipality did not consult the families before moving them to the new settlement, which lacked adequate facilities. AI reported that a representative of the local government asked the owners of mobile homes and recreational vehicles to make them available as living space for some families and that the new settlement provided only two portable toilets and four drinking fountains. Other families had to sleep in cars or in makeshift shacks.
Government officials at the national and local levels, including those from the Ministry of Interior and UNAR, met periodically with Roma and their representatives.
In a letter to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on January 26, Nils Muiznieks, the human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe, expressed his concern about the continuing evictions of Roma, Sinti, and Caminanti as violations of the country’s international commitments and domestic law.
On March 17, a Rome court recognized the right to citizenship of a Romani woman of Bosnian origin born in Italy. The court argued that as a minor she was not responsible for not having met the rules on citizenship and had the right to apply for citizenship when she reached age 18.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Antidiscrimination laws exist and apply specifically to LGBTI victims of homophobic and transphobic offenses. AI alleged the penalties for hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same as for other kinds of hate crimes. There is no provision for a victim’s sexual orientation to be considered an aggravating circumstance in hate crimes.
The press reported isolated cases of violence against gay and lesbian couples during the year. According to the NGO Arcigay, between May 2015 and May 2016, the media reported at least 104 cases of discrimination against members of the LGBTI community. On June 3, local press reported that a father in Alba attacked his son’s partner and another friend, seriously injuring both. Reports attributed the attack to homophobia.
Since 2006 the Gay Help Line, an NGO that operated a hotline providing support to LGBTI persons, received an average 20,000 calls per year. Approximately 20 percent of callers under the age of 25 were minors, while 75 percent reported problems at school and with their families. Most adult callers (38 percent) reported cases of discrimination at work, while 30 percent reported being victims of violence.
On May 11, parliament adopted a measure establishing legal civil unions for same-sex couples.