MILAN -- A Milan hospital is exhibiting X-rays of women attacked by men to highlight what one doctor calls the “daily horror” of violence against women.
The San Carlo Hospital mounted the exhibit in its atrium to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which takes place on Monday.
Patients’ anonymity was respected in putting the five X-rays on display, including one showing the large blade of a knife lodged in a woman’s abdomen. Other X-rays show fractured limbs, including a shin bone broken in two.
For the show’s inauguration on Thursday, Dr. Maria Grazia Vantadori, a hospital surgeon and liaison for women suffering violence from husbands, boyfriends, family members or acquaintances, noted that some patients don’t at first consider themselves domestic violence victims.
“Often the women who come to the emergency room, not knowing how to label what happened to them, don’t immediately say they have suffered violence,’’ Vantadori said.
But, Vantadori said, “the bodies, the injuries speak for them and recount the spirals of daily horror.”
Only in the last few years, have women in Italy started making significant inroads in an uphill cultural and legislative campaign to combat men’s violence against former and current wives and girlfriends, as well as against mothers, daughters and sisters.
As recently as a generation ago, the Italian penal code still called for prison sentences as short as three years for men who killed women out of jealousy. Until 1981, the law sanctioned leniency for male defendants who slayed women to preserve the “family honor.”
But a cadre of courageous women, including some horribly disfigured after being doused with acid, are galvanizing other women — and men — to recognize the warning signs of domestic violence and to support those who want to get out of violent relationships.
The Italian Parliament passed anti-stalking legislation in 2009. But there have been cases in which authorities underestimated the danger posed by jealous or vengeful men with whom the women have ended or tried to end relationships.
On Friday, doctors and other hospital staff as well as those coming to the hospital for medical care stopped to view the X-rays, which reflected patient injuries from over the last 10 years, the hospital said.
The exhibition runs through Dec. 9.
D’Emilio reported from Rome.