Lu­cia An­ni­bali: From acid at­tack vic­tim to Italy Par­lia­ment can­di­date

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL -

PARMA: Af­ter over­com­ing a bru­tal acid at­tack or­ga­nized by an ex-lover, Lu­cia An­ni­bali is us­ing her power as a sym­bol of the bat­tle against gen­der-based vi­o­lence to take that fight to Italy’s Par­lia­ment.

A lawyer, An­ni­bali has bounced back from al­most los­ing her sight and a raft of fa­cial re­con­struc­tive surgery to be­come a ma­jor voice draw­ing at­ten­tion to vi­o­lence against women.

Now she is run­ning in the March 4 elec­tion for the cen­ter-left Demo­cratic Party (PD) in the north­east city of Parma.

“Af­ter be­ing at­tacked I thought about how I could best start again,” she told AFP.

“I had to find the best way to make the most of my work as a lawyer and re­al­ized that pol­i­tics could be the right way.”

Parma is in a left-wing strong­hold — fa­mous for Parme­san cheese — and the lo­cals seem well dis­posed to­ward the 40-year-old can­di­date.

It is the city of her re­nais­sance where she went un­der the knife around 20 times to re­con­struct her face and where she was made an honorary cit­i­zen in 2015.

“We hope that a woman who has shown such an abil­ity to get her life back on track will make the most of her po­ten­tial in pub­lic life,” said En­rico Br­uschi, a phar­ma­cist in cen­ter city Parma.

An­ni­bali’s life changed for­ever on April 6, 2013, when re­turn­ing from work to her home in Pe­saro in eastern Italy, a hooded man ap­peared and sprayed her with sul­phonic acid, se­verely dis­fig­ur­ing her face and al­most blind­ing her.

“My face was cook­ing, I was scream­ing so much, there were lit­tle bub­bles mov­ing on my cheeks,” she said later de­scrib­ing the hor­ren­dous as­sault.

As she was rushed to the burns unit of a hos­pi­tal in Parma, some two-and-halfhours away, An­ni­bali named her for­mer fi­ance, also a lawyer, who in 2016 would be sen­tenced to 20 years in prison for hir­ing two Al­ba­nian men to carry out the at­tack.

Later that year, then-head of the Depart­ment of Equal Op­por­tu­ni­ties Maria Elena Boschi in­vited An­ni­bali to be­come an ad­viser, a role she still car­ries out to­day. “The at­tack changed my life for the bet­ter,” she now says.

“Re­gain­ing my sight and re­learn­ing to eat are all bat­tles that make you truly ap­pre­ci­ate the value of life.”

Italy’s do­mes­tic vi­o­lence fig­ures are be­low the Euro­pean av­er­age of 33 per­cent, with 27 per­cent of Ital­ian women over the age of 15 say­ing that they have suf­fered phys­i­cal or sex­ual vi­o­lence.

Italy is also lower than Den­mark (52 per­cent), Fin­land (47 per­cent), France and the United King­dom (44 per­cent), ac­cord­ing to the first Euro­pean-wide study pub­lished in 2014 by the EU’s Fun­da­men­tal Rights Agency.

How­ever, the au­thors of the re­port note that women in south­ern Euro­pean coun­tries also of­ten keep silent about some forms of vi­o­lence.

Fig­ures pub­lished by Italy’s na­tional sta­tis­tics body Is­tat show that just 11 per­cent of Ital­ian women who have been vic­tims of gen­der-based vi­o­lence press charges, while over 80 per­cent of women who are sex­u­ally black­mailed at work speak to no one about the in­ci­dent.

But the world­wide #MeToo move­ment against sex­ual as­sault and ha­rass­ment is hav­ing an im­pact in Italy where ac­tress Asia Ar­gento’s prom­i­nent role in the cam­paign has brought vi­o­lence against women to the fore­front of pub­lic de­bate.

“If we’ve been talk­ing a lot about these cases in Italy in re­cent years, it’s be­cause women have armed them­selves with the courage to speak out.”

In 2013, a hooded man sprayed Lu­cia An­ni­bali with sul­phonic acid, se­verely dis­fig­ur­ing her face and al­most blind­ing her. (AFP)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saudi Arabia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.