Casa Internazionale delle Donne: a haven from harsh realities

Names of women killed by their partner or a close relative in Italy in recent years. There are more than 150 names on the wall in the courtyard at Casa Internazionale delle Donne.

Once every three days, a woman in Italy is killed by her partner or close relative.

Many women don’t admit – not even to themselves – that they are the victims of domestic violence. Some don’t believe they deserve a better life, while some think that they need to stay with their husband or partner in order to save him.

More women are killed by their own husband or close relative than the total number of deaths caused by the mafia in Italy, according to a report from Ansa and EuRes (cited here by SIEDS, the Italian Society of Economic Demography and Statistics).

Meanwhile, there is a desperate lack of social services providing help and refuge for these women.

Casa Internazionale delle Donne (CID), in via della Lungara in Rome, is something of a haven. Between St Peter’s and the busy streets of Trastevere, the CID is a meeting point for women’s help groups, information, services and expression. Professional associations such as Donna e Politiche Familiari, Differenza Donna, Essere Donna and Codice Donna have offices there where women can seek advice on legal issues, divorce, separation, health, psychological problems, maternity and many other issues faced by women of all ages. There is information on yoga, photography, art and writing, as well as courses for young mothers and their infants.

It is an open, welcoming place. It’s also a place where you can sit and relax in the courtyard bar, drink an espresso or even dine in the women-only restaurant.

In a world of such harsh realities, CID is a place where things can seem ok again.

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