LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As women around the world held protests against gender-based violence on Sunday, the head of the European parliament made a dramatic public gesture in support of ending domestic abuse.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani drew a red line under his eye with make-up while attending a major Brexit summit in Brussels, following the lead of famous footballers such as Cristiano Ronaldo in backing an Italian anti-violence campaign.
“It is not normal that it is normal,” the Italian politician said during the summit, referring to domestic violence.
“Violence against women is unacceptable. I learned this from my mother and I’m teaching it to my children,” he later tweeted.
Footballers from top Italian clubs sported red lipstick marks on their cheeks in games over the weekend in support of an Italian campaign to fight violence against women which uses the hashtag #unrossoallaviolenza – meaning a red card to violence.
United Nations data suggests a third of women worldwide have suffered sexual or physical violence, and one in 10 girls have been raped or sexually assaulted.
Tajani said the European Parliament would be lit up orange for Sunday’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which marks the start of a 16-day campaign.
“Nobody can try to impose themselves with violence or through violence. Notably against women,” he said.
Tajani was in Brussels on Sunday for a meeting of EU leaders to seal a deal setting terms for Britain’s withdrawal next year from the European Union.
In Spain, tens of thousands of protesters marched carrying signs reading “For Those Who Aren’t With Us” and “Justice”.
The names of the 44 women killed in domestic violence in Spain last year were read out at a rally in Madrid. [L8N1Y00M4]
The campaign backed by Tajani was set up by the Italian humanitarian organisation WeWorld Onlus, the players’ association and the Lega Serie A – Italy’s top football league.
Rights groups say domestic violence and rape remains hugely underreported in Europe, despite movements like #MeToo which have spurred women to speak out about sexual violence.
Only eight out of 31 European countries surveyed by Amnesty International define rape as sex without consent, the group said on Saturday, urging other nations to overhaul “outdated” laws that let rapists off the hook and perpetuate victim-blaming. [nL8N1XX47K]
(Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Kieran Guilbert. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)