200 pro bono lawyers train for women victims in Lombardy

Lombardy regional government launches training courses.

As over 30 per cent of women aged 16-70 in Lombardy have suffered physical or sexual violence, the regional government in Milan has launched a training course for lawyers.

Some 200 legal professionals prepared to offer unpaid counsel – of whom 50 in Milan alone – are taking part in courses held in Milan itself, as well as in Lecco, Bergamo and Pavia.

Open to lawyers with five years of registration on the rolls, the training will be given by magistrates, lawyers, teachers, regional government officers, police officers and personnel from anti-violence centres.

And Lombardy administration has set up a round table with consulates in the area to involve all expat communities in the fight against violence against women, and to study varying approaches appropriate to each community.

Lawyers are a very important link in our anti-violence network,” said regional councillor Giulio Gallera. “It’s fundamental that they’re prepared for giving adequate legal advice,” he continued, “in the complaint phase and in the other legal steps.

I consider their role absolutely strategic to intercept the phenomenon, recognise the symptoms, help to overcome the victims’ widespread reluctance to file a suit, and point them to the right centres and listeners,” Gallera added.

Himself a lawyer, Gallera said he was proud to have enlisted the cooperation of the Lombardy Order of Legal Professionals. He said the future plan is to organise similar courses for other categories that first come into contact with victims, such as emergency room staff, family doctors, paediatricians and social workers.

Both courses are part of a four-year plan aimed at these workers, to train them to encourage women to denounce their attackers, and explain that there is a specific network there to help guide them “out of the tunnel”.

The number of declared cases of violence against women is rising, according to figures from the emergency service Soccorso Violenza Sessuale e Domestica (SVSeD) at Milan’s Mangialli clinic.

But the estimated figure of almost one in three women who suffer violence is all the more alarming when considering that only one in a thousand turn to the region’s anti-violence services for help, say experts.