Finding work after being subjected to violence

“For some time in my life, black and white has dominated, the splashes of color are few: my children, of course, and these thread spools.” Violeta laughs, lifts her head from the sewing machine and points to the display on the next wall: a rainbow of fuses in chromatic order. Pressing the pedal with control completes the roll of a vermilion yarn on the spool. Behind, he says, he has one too black too black to remember, in front of a white side, immaculate and aseptic ashousing, where she sought refuge after condemning her husband’s ten-year-long violence. For her, as for many others, saving herself meant cutting the ties with everything: home, ties, habits, even giving up telling herself on these pages using her real name. Which, of course, is not Violeta.

At best, the script is similar: the condemnation, the first aid, the salvation in a shelter or in a safe elsewhere. Fade. Usually it is here that the uplifting tale of the victims of violence who had the courage and luck to escape their executioners stops. Right here, however, begins the equally complex story of the ascension from the abyss, of rebirth into the world, the blank page to be written for women who have been subjected to violence: a clean slate on which to put the rebuilding of oneself, the recognition of its value after the many humiliations, but above all the conquest of economic autonomy, which is the necessary condition for freeing oneself from its tormenting spirits, also for those who have no beatings behind them but forms of psych abuse or forced dependence financially.


The therapeutic tailored

For many, a first concrete resource comes from the income of freedom, which allocates a subsidy of up to 400 euros a month for 12 months to the victims followed by the anti-violence centers: The Minister for Equal Opportunities Elena Bonetti has just signed a decree worth 9 million euros to refinancing of the funds. It is a crucial but urgent measure: the most effective tool for liberation, for regaining a perspective of trust and normality, for preventing the already traumatic outcomes of an abuse from also becoming a social disadvantage, is a real income from work .

Violeta began writing the first lines of her blank page in the laboratory of the Molce Atelier in the Milan district of Dergano, a therapeutic tailor-made born thanks to a call from the Scuola dei Quartieri, a project promoted by the municipality of Milan and co-financed by the European Union : here she learned and practiced the sewing profession. “We were inspired by this word: ‘molcere’, a verb meaning calm, sweet,” explains Paola Maraone, a psychologist. “We had the idea of ​​treatment, of relieving a burden or a pain, because the women who come to us actually have a heavy backpack on their shoulders and a weight in their heart. What do we give them? First of all, free tailoring training courses: a craft subject that we read through the perspective of eco-sustainability; the studio is a small nest, with an intimate and homely air, where women learn and sew, without anyone wearing a badge or feeling compelled to talk about themselves; although often during the manual work, which in itself is healing, it is natural to exchange ideas and experiences. In parallel with tailoring, we offer, always free of charge, a path of psychological support and listening, which is not mandatory, even here we respect every single time. We are there: that is the message we want to pass on ». Once the Molce seamstresses have completed the training cycle, they begin work: each item sold has a “talking” label that traces the redemption story of the woman who made it; the profits are redistributed among those who work.

Cakes and ice cream

Breaking loneliness and isolation, promoting the work and social inclusion of women escaping violence: With the same intentions, Viviana Varese, chef at the star restaurant Viva in Milan, opened the house for the reception of abused women, Io Sono Viva sweets and sweets and ice cream: two sales outlets where vocational training takes place in the field and is paid for. “Thanks to the reports from Cadmi, we have put together a fine group,” says the chef. “It’s not a non-profit organization, but a real business, I personally took the risk, my investment is in people and in the choice to pay them with a reasonable salary. These are two small spaces, but we have won good attention.” . As an entrepreneur who is aware of inclusion, Varese is interested in providing an opportunity: “Girls need to want to work and learn to do it in a team. They deserve a special sensitivity, because they have a very difficult privacy, but to me they are not “cases”. I pretend I do not know the stories behind them: they must regain this new life with work, with training, but above all by depriving themselves of the victim’s condition ».

Italy is littered with realities like these: In the Casal di Principe, to give a few more examples, in a building confiscated from the Camorra, Eva Cooperative has created the Ghiottonerie di Casa Lorena, a craftsman’s laboratory that makes jams, spreads and bakery products and employs women , who have come out of violence. It is also a food laboratory belonging to Fighting Cooks in Palermo, a social entrepreneurship project aimed at financially liberating victims of sexual violence through the restoration, production and marketing of traditional recipes.

Never again during extortion

More generally, regardless of geographical or prosperity coordinates, women’s work represents the most effective social protection against gender-based violence: a woman’s economic autonomy, the network of relationships and contacts that work guarantees, becomes a phenomenal weapon to break free from blackmail, isolation and dependence. It is also important to remember that victims of violence who already have a job can apply for compensation of up to three months. “It’s an institute that was introduced in 2015, but it’s still a little known and used according to INPS data, yet it offers a kind of time buffer to avoid being in the middle of a road from one day to the next. “recognized. Minister of Labor and Social Policy Andrea Orlando, speaking at a meeting on the subject – which was also attended by Molce Atelier – in which he emphasized the need for coordination that puts institutions, associations and realities involved in work inclusion “into a strategy to escape from violence that accompanies women towards the most appropriate paths “. The Minister is right: the realities that in various ways are about gender-based violence in the territory are there, but they still represent a fragmented substance that is struggling to intercept all the victims and their needs.

A safety net

Local governments are trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together: for example, the city and the municipality of Milan have recently signed a protocol with Afol Metropolitana and ActionAid to promote working autonomy for women victims of violence: a pact involving the centers and shelters of the city’s anti-violence network , but also private employment agencies, industry associations, trade unions and training and work centers, with the aim of building a model together with effective intervention and cooperation. “We tried to get the various interlocutors to sit at the same table,” explains Alessia Capello, Councilor for Economic Development and Labor Policy in Milan, “to build socio-economic empowerment avenues to support these women’s education and employability. Opportunities exist, but it is often difficult to find or access them because databases are not shared; each one makes their own piece and there is no circularity.We want to close these gaps with everyone’s cooperation.The protocol aims to bring needs and issues forward through involvement of anti-violence centers and associations in the area; institutions, centers and employment services are then asked to do the final piece identifying the right career path for each. ”A similar initiative was also taken by the Tuscany region, which has allocated significant resources to create a synergy system between the employment centers, which will be strengthened, and the anti-violence network in the area: a kind of dual education with the aim of allowing women to take their lives back and become independent thanks to work.

It is a large canvas that gradually tightens its plot and reorganizes itself based on local realities in the hope that the next national anti-violence plan will deepen and regulate the theme of work as a specific path of redemption. “Together with the anti-violence and crisis centers,” concludes Paola Maraone, “we need the explicit will to recognize and promote the many projects dealing with the work and social inclusion of victims of gender-based violence and to translate any reality. to a system: the path of redemption towards freedom, autonomy and trust has a strong need for continuity. We must let these wounded women know that there is a community around them that can take care of them through an effective and organized network. ”

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