The Italian state television Rai faced a wave of criticism due to a video attempting to raise awareness about the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
The video features a series of children talking about what they want to be when they grow up. The last of the children, a blonde, blue-eyed little girl, says: "When I grow up I will end up in hospital, because my husband beats me," with the video then blacking out.
The video, posted on the social media accounts RaiPlay (featured below), attracted strong reactions, particularly from Italian women who think the video portrays violence against women as an inescapable fate. A petition was swiftly set up on change.org by the activist group Rebel Women addressed to Rai president Monica Maggioni demanding the removal of the video.
The petition read: "The message delivered contrasts the fight against a culture of violence and we think it is extremely damaging towards the dignity of the children; it represents a stereotype of predestination, strongly opposed by feminism and by those who working domestic violence shelters; finally, it does not bring any positive or useful message to fight gender-based violence".
Luisanna Porcu, who works in at a women's refuge in Sardinia and is active in the campaigning group D.i.Re (Women Online against violence), told IBTimes UK the video did not bring any constructive message. "If we make women think that violence is a destiny we cannot fight because this is just something that happens, we send a very dangerous message," she said. Instead of making violence against women sounding like a fact of life, Porcu said a campaign should instead focus on explaining that gender-based violence is the result of power structures in society and gender-based stereotypes.
In Italy, there were 116 victims of gender-based violence, or feminicide, so far this year, compared to 128 deaths for the whole of 2015. Thousands of women are expected to take part in demonstrations opposing violence against women in several Italian cities on Saturday 26 November under the "Not one less" banner, which also characterised recent protests across Latin America.
The UN promotes 16 days of activism, from 25 November to 10 December (Human Rights Day), in relation to the awareness-raising campaign, which this year also focuses on raising funds to end violence against women.
"One of the major challenges to efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls worldwide is the substantial funding shortfall. As a result, resources for initiatives to prevent and end violence against women and girls are severely lacking," UN Women explained in a statement.
The international campaign to eliminate violence against women originated from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in 1991. The UN campaign encourages supporters to "Orange the world," as the colour symbolises "a brighter future without violence."