Feminicides of prostitutes in Italy (1988-2018). Specificities and contradictions of a little explored phenomenon


  • Paola Degani Università di Padova, Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche, Giuridiche e Studi Internazionali https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6485-0931
  • Gianfranco Della Valle Comune di Venezia, Numero Verde in Aiuto alle Vittime di Tratta




The paper deals with the theme of voluntary homicide of female prostitutes in Italy (gender-related killing of women and girls – femminicide of women involved in prostitution – both sex workers and forced prostitutes), during the last three decades. In this period in Italy we have been witnessing the transformation of the phenomenon of prostitution in particular street prostitution (outdoor) from the autochthonous to the migrant’s one. Roughly speaking 500 women in prostitution (streetwalkers) have been killed during these 30 years. Their murders – in terms of authors of crimes – can be approximately divided between “intimate or proximity” (partner or customer) and “criminal offenders” (exploitation networks) ones. In the same period 88 transsexuals were also murdered. The discuss about data and the experiences of contact in Italy with street prostitutes allow us to affirm that their murder represents a very serious epiphenomenon in the framework of the various manifestations of gender based violence of man against women. Such violence can be aggravated by public policies which, in an attempt to tackle the phenomenon of “degradation” in the city and to get money through administrative fines, make woman, especially who are forced prostitutes, more vulnerable. Through a critical thematic qualitative analysis of press articles this paper shows that the “femminicidio” narrative based on an emergency approach on violence after the institutional adoption in the political agenda of this matter, leave behind or scale down the structural dimension of male violence against women in relation to the murders of sex workers and other women involved in outdoor prostitution. The paper offers an interpretation of these specific femminicides scarcely considered by the media but also in the political debate on violence against women so to silently point out a subtle difference between worthy and “guilty” victims demonstrating the pervasive dimension of gender-based violence in these homicides.

Keywords: women’s human rights, femicide/femmicide, prostitution/sex-work, male violence against women gender based, public policy.

Author Biographies

Paola Degani, Università di Padova, Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche, Giuridiche e Studi Internazionali

Docente di Women's Human Rights e di Politiche Pubbliche e diritti umani

Gianfranco Della Valle, Comune di Venezia, Numero Verde in Aiuto alle Vittime di Tratta

dal 2014 ad oggi lavora presso il Servizio Protezione Sociale e Centro anti-violenza del Comune di Venezia, occupandosi di tratta e grave sfruttamento, soprattutto nell’area del contatto e del lavoro di prossimità. Dal 2016 è Referente del Numero Verde Nazionale in Aiuto alle Vittime di Tratta e dallo stesso anno collabora come esperto con OSCE per l’implementazione di formazione internazionale multi-agenzia per operatori attivi nell’ambito del contrasto al traffico di esseri umani.