Italian women’s groups challenge parental alienation laws


Women’s groups in Italy fear that new parental alienation laws could have severe consequences for victims of domestic abuse. Lawyers from the far right League party  have called for “the serious phenomenon of parental alienation” to be criminalised, claiming the law is often used by men accused of violence against their partners to justify the refusal of the child to see them.

“They argue that the mother is guilty of alienating the child, when in reality the child is rejecting the abuse of the father,” said Girolamo Andrea Coffari, a lawyer and the president of Movimento per l’Infanzia (Children’s Movement).

Women’s groups are hugely concerned by the new law. “The laws are there but they are poorly implemented,” said Elena Biaggioni, a family lawyer. “For example, there is one that says violent men must be removed from the home, but it doesn’t work.”

Cultural attitudes pose another challenge: women who report violence struggle to be believed, either by police, their own families or the courts. Italy has the highest femicide rate in Europe and many fear that lingering macho attitudes not only lead men to regard women as their property but also permeate media reports of abuse.

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