Thursday, October 23, 2014

Country Overview: Italy

Bonjourno to my American readers! It's a chilly October afternoon here in Italy, and I couldn't be more content. The Italian culture has been good for my soul. It is still modern enough to be comfortable for a westerner, but the Mediterranean, easygoing culture still seeps through. The delicious food and beverages don't hurt either.



As much as I love this country, though, it is not immune to the problem of sexual violence and exploitation. Unfortunately, the easygoing spirit can extend to the law enforcement on this issue, so exploited women have little chance to get the protection to which they are entitled. More on that in a later post. In the meantime, here's what you need to know about bella Italia.

The Basics

Over 60 million people call Italy home - as do millions of tourists temporarily, nearly year round. Many Italian cities economies are entirely dependant on the spending of foreign tourists within their borders. The official language is Italian, but in the major cities like Venice, Rome (the capital), and Florence, the majority of people speak English. Italy is famous for its cuisine, culture, and canals. It is also the seat of the Catholic church and the backdrop for most of Christian history.

Italy and My Project

Prostitution is legal and almost entirely unregulated in Italy. Most prostitution happens on the streets rather than in brothels here. Yet somehow it seems to be more discreet and hidden than in cities like Amsterdam and Vienna. According to the 2014 TIP report, Italy is a source, transit, and destination country for trafficking. Its central location means that victims come from every corner of the globe - from China to Brazil. Recent economic problems have hurt both individuals in the country, as well as the larger movement to fight trafficking and exploitation. Funding was cut significantly in the last year for government efforts to provide services to victims and survivors.

Here are my biggest questions for my time in Italy:

  1. How does law enforcement discover and respond to cases of exploitation if prostitution is largely unregulated?
  2. How does the church in Italy respond to the mistreatment of women within its country?
  3. How does Italian culture and lifestyle affect the incidence of sexual exploitation and violence?
  4. What is the Italian government doing in response to the country's geographical openness to trafficking?
  5. What kind of services are available to survivors of sexual exploitation and violence - particularly those who are not legal Italian residents?

First Impressions

I think Italy is breathtaking. It certainly met my expectations as a romantic place filled with delicious food. Everyone is usually very friendly as well. I highly recommend that people who visit try to get out of the major cities and experience some real Italian culture. You can hear more English than Italian in certain parts of cities, and the touristy areas are certainly more expensive and crowded. It's hidden places like these that have made me fall in love with Italia. Che bella!





No comments: