[fullwidth background_color=”#ffffff” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”20px” padding_bottom=”20px” padding_left=”20px” padding_right=”20px” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]by Tea SISTO
“He killed his wife and 7-year-old daughter with a hatchet, then called the police and got himself arrested. A rage that occurred at the height of yet another family quarrel.” Online news given by a major national newspaper in the year 1999. A rapture? Are we sure?
More recent news, from last June, closer in time and place, Taranto, published in another newspaper. “He kills his wife. Then the four-year-old son. Finally, he takes his own life. Three moments of madness unfolded Tuesday night in two different places in Taranto. The protagonist is Luigi Alfarano, a 50-year-old doctor and coordinator of Ant (National Cancer Association) who first murdered his partner, Federica De Luca, 30, in the city apartment where they had lived since the day they were married and then — according to the reconstruction made by police and carabinieri up to this point — left with their little son and about 20 minutes later reached a country house between Pino di Lenne and Chiatona, in the territory of Palagiano. Here he shot his son to death and moments later took his own life. The couple was about to put an end to their marriage.”
She was the one who wanted to separate. He had beaten his wife before strangling her. So he picked up his son and took him to a small house, here he shot him, killing him. Three moments of madness? Are we sure this was not a premeditated plan, a studied extreme revenge? A man goes home, beats his wife, strangles her, then picks up the child, gets into the car with him, kills him, and finally ends it with himself as well. Too many passages to think of a rapture, a sudden insanity paradoxically repeated several times in a person who is not insane and who, in that long period of time required to commit multiple murders before suicide, cannot have become, suddenly incapacitated.
Yet those phrases, “sudden insanity,” “homicidal rapture,” and the like, appear 90 times out of a hundred when the media, print, online, or television, report on violence against women and children, rape, femicide, and infanticide. Since the beginning of the year, more than seventy women have been killed in Italy by their husbands, boyfriends, lovers and exes in all of these roles. Are we victims of endemic male insanity, of a madness that has become epidemic? Of course not. Instead, it is true that it is still, a feat to eliminate these stereotypes from the language of journalism and, unfortunately, almost always even women journalists use, out of established habit, this written and oral language that is as standardized as it is dangerous and false.
Here, not being a war correspondent and having fought only a much more modest daily battle, as a crime and judicial reporter, in territory where the homegrown mafia is by no means definitively defeated anyway, this is what I want to talk about. Of this “kind of news,” of language that distorts reality.
Macché raptus, what madness? Why do we continue to give easy and bogus alibis to men who beat, rape, strangle, and stab women when they don’t have a gun handy? Experience tells us that it is exactly the opposite. Violent men, who claim total control over their female or former life partners, always have a past to investigate. It is a continuum of verbal and physical assaults, often reported and disregarded. An escalation of violence that can lead to murder. But the language of the mass media always seems to want to provide mitigation for the murderer on duty, even before a judge makes a ruling. These are the last regurgitations of the old “motive of passion,” of “honor killing,” that article 587 eliminated from our penal code in 1981.
Very late, actually. “Whoever causes the death of a spouse, daughter or sister, in the act in which he discovers their illegitimate carnal relationship and in the state of anger determined by the offense caused to his or the family’s honor, shall be punished by imprisonment from three to seven years. To the same punishment shall be subject whoever, under the said circumstances, causes the death of the person who is in illegitimate carnal relations with his spouse, daughter or sister.”
Nice sentence discount, because only the man was recognized as the owner of honor.
The law has been gone for just 35 years. Our mothers could be killed with ease considering that “nonnulla” of punishment provided in case of conviction.
But that paradoxical, tragic, terrible law, which horrifies us today and was repealed even after the legitimization of divorce and abortion, continues to live on in the common language of journalists and, unfortunately, in many of us women journalists.
Needless to say, sexism in newspapers and news outlets also takes other seemingly more innocuous forms. Such as dwelling on the physical and aesthetic qualities of a minister, a member of parliament, a mayor, any woman who holds an institutional or otherwise prominent position. Her way of dressing, makeup, lack of makeup, even her hairstyle is admired or mocked. Which is not the case for men in the same positions. Sexism, whether conscious or unconscious, sails online, in newspapers, in television broadcasts. And it is better to gloss over the advertisements, the promotional messages.
A long work awaits us and, above all, the new generations who have grown up and are growing up with this language. But it is a war, too, that must be fought to the end.
Tea Sisto was born in Bari on January 30, 1953, but has resided in Brindisi for decades. Faculty of Arts after graduating from high school with a classical degree, she worked in her youth as a clerk in an Efim office and in a metalworking factory, becoming a union leader, from 1975 to 1978, of Fim Cisl where she was also head of the metalworking women’s coordination. Freelance journalist until 1982. Then a trainee at the Brindisi office of the Nuovo Quotidiano di Puglia until June 20, 1984, when he passed the national examination for registration as a professional journalist. At Quotidiano, as a full-time Article 1 reporter, he covers union, administrative, and city news and then moved on to crime and judicial reporting. In 2000, she was appointed deputy news chief of the Brindisi newsroom. Since May 1, 2010, he has been chief of the Brindisi newsroom. He collaborated with the Apulian news agency Ansa for two years, for the daily newspaper La Repubblica for three years for the whole of Apulia, with the Laterza publishing house in Bari for cultural articles for a year, and occasionally for in-depth broadcasts on Rai Tre and for the daily newspaper Il Messaggero. Since March 1, 2014, he has been retired. He continues to write and publish always in the New Apulian Newspaper. She was a member of the Disciplinary Council of the Order of Journalists of Apulia for three years. He has lectured and lectures in journalism schools, moderates debates on social issues, presents essays, and holds journalism seminars for colleagues. She is involved in social work with the association Libera contro le mafie, the association Io Donna and the Migrants and Mediterranean Committee of Brindisi.[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]