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The volume is being turned up on an issue that had for so long not been a feature of widespread debate: domestic violence.

Serena Danna, a journalist at Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera, notes how the newspaper's collective women’s blog 27ora (‘The 27th Hour’), has been gathering stories of domestic violence from Italian women across all walks of life.

Rome-based radio host Loredana, 56, laments that that there is no national requirement to teach sex education in Italian schools.

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At 57pc, Italy’s overall employment rate falls below the OECD’s 66pc average.

Its youth unemployment rate is also one of the highest in Europe at 37pc, above the Eurozone average of 24.2pc.

In November last year, two parliamentarians called for life sentences for those who kill women for being women (or ‘femminicidio’, as it is known in Italian).

However, the austerity in place to tackle Italy’s economic woes has undermined the work done to combat such violence, Cristina Karadole of the Bologna-based women’s organisation Casa delle Donne told me.

“It involves cuts in social spending and to schools, services, health, all the sectors in which we think the government should increase resources to promote policies of prevention and education, which are the only ones capable of eliminating the problem.” In what has widely been seen as a reassuring sign, former journalist and UNHCR representative Laura Boldrini was in March chosen as the speaker of Italy’s chamber of deputies, and during her inaugural speech received a standing ovation for pledging to “take charge of the humiliation of women suffering violence masquerading as love".

Reassuring though this and the higher proportion of female parliamentarians might be, how they deliver is a separate matter.If this winter’s election --- which resulted in a hung parliament --- revealed anything, it was that Italians are hungry for change.Italy’s economy is shrinking: in the second quarter of 2012, it had Europe’s second highest government debt to GDP ratio at 126pc, according to Eurostat, trailing not far behind its Greek neighbours.On the surface, the success of ex-comedian Beppe Grillo’s blog-based Movimento 5 Stelle (Five Star Movement, M5S) --- which tapped into widespread discontent to garner a quarter of votes - might appear as a cry against the austerity Italy has been forced to endure. “It’s a complete rejection of this country’s political class and what’s been happening here for 20 years, that both centre-left and centre-right parties have never done what they promised to do,” says Duncan Mc Donnell, a fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. This is a rejection of that.” The election also resulted in Italy’s parliament having the highest number of women in its history, with 32pc in the lower chamber of deputies and 30pc in the senate.The presence of more women in a historically male sphere goes, at least in principle, against the so-called ‘casta’ (caste): the deep-rooted trend of one privileged group controlling Italy’s power structures, according to London-based Italian journalist and author Caterina Soffici: “The more a party has women inside the newer it is and the more they can change because they’re outside the casta,” she says.“For the first time this topic has entered the national agenda.” Figures from helpline Telefono Rosa confirmed by Italy’s national statistics body, Istat, revealed that a woman in Italy was killed every two days in 2012, compared to every three days in 2011.

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