Italy abrogated reparatory marriage and the honor killing only 40 years ago: it is objectively a retrograde country. Save the children attests that every year in the world 12 million baby-brides are forced into marriage, for an average of about 33 thousand a day. In Italy forced marriage is governed by art. 558a, introduced in the Penal Code by Law No. 69/2019 and punishes anyone who, with violence or threat, forces a person to enter into marriage or civil union with a imprisonment from one to five years; a heavier sentence is applied when the victim is a minor. There is no collection of data on forced marriage victims in our country (but we count one feminicide every three days), while in the United Kingdom and Germany the statistics count about 1500 cases per year.
Saman was an 18-year-old girl who objected to a forced marriage imposed by her family. Terrified of what might happen to her, last April Saman warned her boyfriend to raise the alarm in case she never heard from again. After a few days the search for the girl began, which brought to light the heavy fundamentalist pressures of the family. Forced marriage is common in many archaic societies, so death is sometimes a response to disobedience. In this context, especially for girls, rebelling means dishonor and loneliness.
THE TABOO OF FREEDOM
Usama Sikandar, vice president of the Pakistani Youth Association in Italy, said: "Saman is dead because there are several alibis that through religion, tradition and customs have armed the hand of her uncle; we must disarm the misogynists and sexists, who find in the ambiguity of interpretations the freedom to discriminate". Usama reports the feeling of a generation that feels far from the traditionalist principles of their own community, which is based on meticulous control of its members and in which children must follow the rules dictated by their parents in order to maintain a good reputation of the family.
The story of Saman - like that of many other girls - is determined not only by factors that strictly concern their own community, but also by a lack of integration. While the young Pakistanis (and not only) do not recognize themselves in the fundamentalist principles of the old generations, on the other hand they are not adequately welcomed and recognized by Italian society, which daily reports on xenophobic and racist events. The consequences they face for this lack of integration can be chilling, as in the case of Saman.
There are two ways of creating dialogue and fostering integration. First of all, we need to listen and understand that within a community there are more people, each with its own history. Saman was the daughter of a generation that looks to the past, but in Italy she was able to confront her peers and desire a future free from misogynistic and patriarchal constraints. Her family, however, must not be neglected, as they felt justified in committing a crime in the name of their honor in front of the rest of the community. A second instrument is education, which is as crucial in children as in parents. Anyone who wants to live according to their own culture, but without calling human rights and respect for the law into question, must be protected. An important step could also be the creation of an association of Pakistani women to denounce and not to allow other girls, like Saman, to be left alone.