This legislative decree protects maternity and paternity, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of either. It regulates parental leave, leave for the illness of a child, rest, and the treatment of pregnant workers to protect their health. (Note: PDF is the consolidated text only. Follow the external link for the entire text of the decree.)
Women and Justice: Jurisdiction
The Italian Civil Code provides for succession and inheritance, each of which require equal treatment of male and female children (Book II, Title I). In cases in which the conduct of a spouse or co-habitant causes serious physical or mental harm to the other spouse or co-habitant, but the conduct does not constitute a criminal act, the court may issue a family order of protection. A judge may order the party concerned to stay away from the home, the spouse's place of work, the residences of extended family members, and the children's school (Book I, TItle IX, art. 342). The judge can also order the intervention of social services or a family mediation center.
The Italian Penal Code prohibits domestic violence (art. 572), female genital mutilation (art. 583), and harassment (art. 612). Punishable crimes against a person's freedom also include slavery and forced prostitution (art. 600), human trafficking (art. 601), and sexual violence (art. 609). Sexual acts coerced through violence, threats, or abuse of authority carry a prison sentence of five to 10 years. Aggravating factors in sexual violence cases include pregnancy, a victim under 14 years old, and use of a weapon. Sexual acts with a minor are not punishable when(1) the perpetrator is also a minor, (2) the minor is at least 13 years old, and (3) the age difference between the two is no more than three years (art. 609).
The Constitution provides for equality before the law without consideration of sex, race, religion, political affiliation, language, and social conditions (art. 3). It also recognizes the moral and legal equality of spouses (art. 29). Finally, it mandates equal employment opportunity for men and women (art. 37).
(English translation available through RefWorld.)
Domestic Case Law
A man was charged with the crime of mistreatment in the family pursuant to article 572 of the Italian Criminal Code and sentenced by the Court of Appeal to one year and four months of imprisonment for mistreatment, aggravated injury and threats against the cohabiting partner. The accused appealed the ruling holding that the charges referred to episodes occurred after the cessation of the cohabitation between him and the victim. However, the Supreme Court maintained that the end of cohabitation is irrelevant to the evaluation of ill-treatment between the members of the couple when the personal relationship was based on mutual solidarity and assistance, and resulted in the birth of a child. In fact, the parental obligations towards a child, for which the couple needs to relate with cooperation and mutual respect, survive despite the cessation of the cohabitation. Therefore, the Italian Supreme Court dismissed the appeal because the presence of a child increases the importance of the stability and longevity of the parents’ relationship.
An employer fired a woman after learning of her intention to start an assisted reproduction process. The local court and the court of appeal stated that such dismissal was substantially due to gender discrimination against the employee who wanted to start the assisted reproduction process. Such decisions were challenged by the employer who argued that the dismissal of the employee was not connected to any gender discrimination but rather to the absences for illness that would have affected the efficient management of the work. The Italian Supreme Court confirmed that the dismissal was null and void due to a gender discrimination, irrespective of the fact that the assisted reproduction process had been commenced or not and sentenced the employer re-hire the employee and to pay her the relevant salaries as if she had never been fired.
The Court of Appeal of Turin upheld the lower court’s judgment deeming a clause of a collective agreement negotiated at the enterprise level to be discriminatory because it infringed on Articles 3 and 37 of the Constitution, Article 25, para 2bis, of Decree No. 198/2006 and Article 3 of Decree No. 151/2001. Under the relevant clause the “real presence at work” was as an eligibility criterion to receive an additional remuneration, it being understood that any family-related leave, including any compulsory maternity leave, parental leave. and/or leave for illness, could affect the employees’ level of performance in that respect. The Court maintained that even though the criterion was formally neutral, it resulted in an indirect pay discrimination since female workers usually take more family-related leave than male workers. Moreover, during the trial, the company failed to provide a permissible justification regarding the requirement of “real presence at work.” Therefore, the employer was ordered to (1) cease the discrimination by computing leave as actual time worked for the purposes of achieving the real presence requirement and becoming eligible for the additional remuneration, (2) to pay the additional remuneration incentive to the plaintiffs, and (3) to enhance a plan to remove the discrimination by avoiding the inclusion of the above criterion in any future collective bargaining at the enterprise level. The latter was promoted by the intervention of the Regional Equality Adviser as a case of collective discrimination.
The applicant, a Nigerian born woman, is granted refugee status based on the absence of protection for violence against women generally in Nigeria, as well as her specific experience with gender-based violence. In 2010, applicant was, without her consent, taken to Libya where she was subject to forced prostitution and violent attacks which included removal of applicant’s nails and hair. Applicant was then transferred to Italy where she was applied to the Territorial Commission for international protection. Her application was denied and she appealed to the Tribunale di Cagliari to overturn the Territorial Commission’s decision. The Tribunale di Cagliari found that the applicant’s subjective credibility should have been considered, along with the objective facts available regarding the dire situation for women in Nigeria, and that the Territorial Commission’s findings were invalid because her application for international protection was not translated to a language that she was able to understand.