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.
Between January and July, police received 2,333 reports of cases of sexual violence and arrested 2,438 alleged perpetrators. According to a 2016 study by the national statistical agency, ISTAT, 31.5 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 70 were victims of physical or sexual violence. Between January and July, 50 women were killed by their partners.
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. From January to November 31, the hotline received 29,939 calls.
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. 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 ($619). The government effectively enforced the law. By government decree emotional abuse based on gender discrimination is a crime. Police investigated reports of harassment that were submitted to authorities.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men. The government enforced laws prohibiting every form of discrimination in all sectors.
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 2016 Telefono Azzurro, an NGO that advocates for children’s rights, received approximately 4,000 reports of child abuse.
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. On April 8, local media reported a case in which family members, all of Moroccan origin, allegedly forced their minor daughter to marry an older man. Authorities intervened and brought the alleged victim to a protected community.
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 3,500 foreign minors were victims of sexual exploitation. According to the Ministry of Justice, through September 15, authorities arrested 174 persons (159 citizens and 15 foreigners) for exploiting minors for prostitution.
In 2016 the National Center for the Fight against Child Pornography, a special unit within the postal and communications division of the National Police, monitored more than 410,000 websites and reported 449 persons to prosecutors. Authorities arrested 51 persons for crimes involving online child pornography.
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 December 1, approximately 15,540 unaccompanied minors arrived in the country. As of August 31, approximately 8,900 children were hosted in protected communities.
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.
On June 14, the Observatory on Anti-Semitism of the Foundation Jewish Contemporary Documentation Center reported that there were 130 anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 but no violent assaults. The center reported a growing number of insults on the internet. Most episodes occurred during Jewish holidays or celebrations.
On April 12, in Bologna, when police confronted a man shouting curses in Arabic, he took out a knife and threatened, “You are Jews. I will kill you all.” He injured two police officers while being arrested.
On February 7, a Rome court acquitted two football fans who supported the S.S. Lazio team and were filmed in 2013 chanting anti-Semitic slurs “yellow-red Jew” and “Jewish Roma supporter” in Rome. The court examined the case and determined that the chants did not rise to the level of a crime as they were made “in the context of a sports rivalry.” Jewish community leader Ruth Dureghello, in a letter protesting the dismissal, stated that it was a “dangerous precedent for justice” since it “lends legitimacy to using the word ‘Jew’ in its most negative form” for racist mockery in sports events.
On October 22, fans of the Lazio soccer team left in a section of the Olympic Stadium of Rome stickers depicting Anne Frank wearing the jersey of the rival AS Roma team and anti-Semitic slogans such as “Roma fans are Jews.” The government and soccer authorities unanimously condemned the act. President Sergio Mattarella characterized the episode as “inhuman and alarming for our country” while Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni stated that the stickers were “unbelievable, unacceptable and not to be minimized.” The president of the Lazio team, Claudio Lotito, visited the main synagogue in Rome to place a wreath and to affirm the team’s desire to tackle the problem of anti-Semitism among its fans. He announced that the team would bring groups of young fans to visit concentration camps every year in order to ensure that they understand the history of the Holocaust. On October 24, police announced that some 20 fans responsible for the incident had been identified, including two minors. The Italian soccer federation began all games that week with a reading of a passage from The Diary of Anne Frank, and players gave to the children who accompanied the teams onto the field copies of both the diary and Primo Levi’s Survival at Auschwitz.
Anti-Semitic slogans and graffiti appeared in some cities, including Rome and Viareggio. On September 3, authorities discovered a swastika and graffiti reading “no to Jews” at a bus stop near a Jewish school and shops owned by Jews in Milan. Other examples of vandalism included damage to a flagstone commemorating victims of the Holocaust in Milan on January 27.
Internet hate speech and bullying were the most common forms of anti-Semitic attacks, according to the Foundation Jewish Contemporary Documentation Center.
In September the lower house of parliament criminalized fascist fanaticism. The measure provides for imprisonment for the public display of the stiff-armed Roman salute commonly used by fascists and Nazis. Those who display or sell fascist or Nazi memorabilia could also face prison terms of six months to two years, which would increase by eight months if those goods are sold online.
In January the archbishop of Palermo, Corrado Lorefice, transferred to the Jewish community a church-owned facility built atop the ruins of the Great Synagogue of Palermo.
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. The government enforced these provisions, but there were incidents of societal and employment discrimination. Although the law mandates access to government buildings and public transportation for persons with disabilities, physical barriers continued to pose challenges.
Societal violence and discrimination against Roma, Sinti, Caminanti, and other ethnic minorities remained a problem. There were reports of discrimination in occupation and employment based on race or ethnicity.
The press and NGOs reported cases of incitement to hatred, violent attacks, forced evictions from unauthorized camps, and mistreatment by municipal authorities. According to the NGO Associazione 21 Luglio, housing remained a serious concern for 29,000 Roma, most of whom were foreigners. A total of 19,000 persons lived in authorized camps, and another 10,000 lived in informal encampments in Rome and elsewhere, where authorities conducted more than 100 evictions between January and August. Local authorities did not always provide adequate alternative housing. On August 27, unknown arsonists set fire to a Romani camp in Naples, destroying shacks and trailers where several families lived.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Under the law there is no provision for a victims sexual orientation or gender identity to be considered an aggravating circumstance in hate crime cases. Instances of violence, discrimination, and hate speech were reported during the year by credible NGOs.
The press reported isolated cases of violence against gay and lesbian couples during the year. The Gay Help Line, an NGO that operated a hotline providing support to LGBTI persons, received on average 20,000 calls per year. Approximately 70 percent of callers reported cases of discrimination and homophobia, 13 percent blackmail and threats, and 11 percent violence and physical abuses. Some 300 persons between the ages of 12 and 25 reported episodes of violence at home.