Im a human fly and I dont know why .
One thing David Cameron and me have in common - probably the only thing - is that this week we’ve both been in Italy.
OK, he’s been there to discuss the global economy, trade, and Afghanistan with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (there’s a great “We’re both waxworks” photo here: 4th one down). Me? I was only in Italia for a short break and just went by Berlusconi’s house in Lombardia in the car (really; he has a villa in a region called Brianza, easily spotted because of the permanent presence of bored-looking carabinieri outside).
If I’d been a fly (una mosca) on the wall during the David-Silvio chat, I think I might have broken all the rules of fly-on-wall etiquette and told them (in my best fly voice) that their obsession with cuts and cost-saving shouldn’t be at the expense of women’s rights. In Italy’s case I’d point to the worrying fact that the government has recently axed 14 out of 15 helplines for women and girls who’d been trafficked. If you read Italian, see this article. The helplines will be replaced by one centralised line and anti-trafficking organisations say that not only will this undermine support systems for the women victims of trafficking but also damage the effort to catch the trafficking gangs.
Marco Bufo, of the Italian anti-trafficking organisation On The Road, says the closure “jeopardises the fight against criminality. As we have a government that considers security particularly important, we would like it to act in a coherent manner” (e si va a compromettere anche la lotta alla criminalità. Nel momento in cui abbiamo davanti un Governo che ci tiene particolarmente alla sicurezza, vorremmo che si comportasse in maniera coerente).
In recent years Italy’s very progressive system for tackling sex trafficking – some 14,000 victims helped and 8,000 prosecutions in recent years – has been widely praised. Now all of a sudden things don’t look so good. I fear a little more for some of the women (many very likely African) who I see on the sides of the superstrade at night in northern Milan (how many of them have been trafficked?; how many can get help if they try to escape their predicament?)
The UK is far from perfect when it comes to dealing with trafficking (as recently noted on this blog), and now news that the “Go order” scheme to tackle domestic violence is being cancelled to save money is hardly encouraging (a “dire sign” in Caroline Crampton’s view). There were misgivings in the women’s sector about Go orders – would they be properly supported? – but the idea that you save money by cutting back on schemes to stop violence against woman is a classic false economy (domestic violence costs the NHS, the police, the courts and employers millions every year).
When times are hard there’s a temptation for governments to cancel “optional” schemes affecting relatively small numbers. Amnesty applauded when Theresa May bucked the trend and announced that the government would extend funding for at-risk immigrant women who would otherwise be excluded from refuges even if their partners had been abusing them. Indeed May seems alive to the danger of women in particular suffering in any large-scale cuts (recently warning George Osborne about this), but I still fear that the cost-cutters will be back for other women’s services.
In this particular post I’m only a lowly fly but I’m still bemused and confused by the idea that you can save a bit of money by cutting back on services to stop violence against women. As the late great Lux Interior of The Cramps used to say, I’m a human fly and I don’t know why ….
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.