25 November - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
Updated: Nov 23
"Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today and it remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it."
This is what the United Nations declare in their website
"Since the pandemic began…
45% of women reported that they or a woman they know has experienced a form of VAWG.
7 in 10 women said they think that verbal or physical abuse by a partner has become more common.
6 in 10 felt that sexual harassment in public spaces has worsened."
A lot must be done. We must keep doing all what we can to stop this plague. Since 2010 I have been writing plays and poems about it and I have organised public events in order to raise awareness.
On November 25th I will be hosting a poetry event "Accanto a noi" (which means "Next to us") that the University of Padova (Italy) has asked me to organize along with Professor Fiona Dalziel.
When professor Dalziel invited me to hold the event (and asked me to read my poems and monologues only) I actually thought of having a night of poems of authors from all over the world: a rich mix of voices to raise awareness about violence against women.
I have chosen one poem for each language taught at the University of Padova: Czech, Croatian, French, Greek, English, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, German and Hungarian, as I also intended it to be a homage to the university of Padova and its 800 years of activity.
The poems I have chosen cover many aspects of violence, including the reaction, the recovery and the feelings felt by women.
They were written by women of the last century and of the present.
I will be reading the Italian versions and university students will read the original poems in the languages they are studying or in their native languages (I thank them all so much!). The university of Padova welcomes thousands of international students every year.
It will be a night of poetry and languages: different voices from Europe, South America, Eurasia, Africa and North America will offer stimuli to meditate, raise awareness and take action.
The event will be live streamed on the Facebook account of DISLL Dipartimento di Studi linguistici e letterari of the university of Padova
Here is the list of authors I have chosen (I will read them following the Italian alphabetical order of the languages):
Jana Černá, Ana Brnardić, Lyne Zokro, Myrianthi Panayiotou - Papaonisiforou, Afia Amoaa Oppong-Kwakye, Pina Piccolo, Giovanna Olivari, Serena Piccoli, Edna Azulay, Marta Chocilowska, Rita Ié Fernandes, Medeea Iancu, Galina Rymbu, Tanja Kragujevic, Veronica Dintinjana, Ana Arzoumanian, Ingeborg Bachmann, Agota Kristof and - in the finale - Maya Angelou.
I wish to thank all the above authors for letting me read their poems.
I thank Professor and friend Fiona Dalziel for inviting me again to the University of Padova for the poetry night, for co-organizing the event with me and also for inviting me to speak in her classes.
One of the poems I have chosen is "Stupro" by the Italian poet Giovanna Olivari. I heard this poem when we were both guests at the International Elba Poetry Festival on Elba Island (Italy) in June 2022. On that occasion she read the original version and poet Matt Sedillo read the English translation by Mario Barboni.
Giovanna, a poet from Genova (Italy) told me the poem was chosen for the Art Wall in Genova in 2017. The poem remained there to be read by passers-by for over a year until the wind blew it away.
Poet Giovanna Olivari in front of the Art Wall in Genova, Italy, in 2017
Thanks to Giovanna for the photos and for allowing me to publish the poem here in both versions: the Italian and the English translation by Mario Barboni.
di Giovanna Olivari
Non conosco i suoi occhi.
Solo il fiato
marcio di albicocca marcia
di deodorante scadente
premuto a forza contro il mio corpo strappato.
Solo l’umido amaro delle foglie
e della terra senza luna
nella mia voce muta.
Solo il terrore assoluto
più forte del sangue
che mi spaccava il cuore.
by Giovanna Olivari
I know not his eyes.
Only his breath
And the rotten
stench of rotten apricoat
of poor deodorizer
pressed against my torn up body.
Only the bitter damp of leaves
and of a moonless earth
in my dumb voice.
Only powerless utter
stronger than the blood
that was breaking my heart.