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Half a million march in Rome and tens of thousands more across Europe to demand an end to violence against women

HUNDREDS of thousands of women marched in Rome on Saturday in the biggest of multiple demonstrations across Europe and beyond against misogynist violence.

“Rome has been invaded — we are 500,000 strong,” declared feminist organisation Non Una Di Meno (“not one less”).

Large rallies took place in other Italian cities as well as in Paris and Madrid as feminists marked the International Day Against Violence Against Women.

Many marched with banners declaring “Giulia is Us,” a reference to murdered 22-year-old student Giulia Cecchettin, whose body was found just a week before covered in black plastic bags in a ditch near an Alpine lake. 

She had gone missing after meeting her boyfriend Filippo Turetta in Venice days before she was due to receive a degree in biomedical engineering. Mr Turetta was arrested in Germany on suspicion of her murder and was extradited back to Italy on Saturday to stand trial.

The Italian Interior Ministry says 106 women have been killed in Italy so far this year, 55 allegedly by a partner or former partner.

In Paris, tens of thousands marched, many wearing purple. Placards read Protect Your Girls, Educate Your Boys and One Rape Every Six Minutes in France.

France has recorded 121 femicides so far this year, more than the 118 last year. The country was rocked over the summer as 17 men were ordered to stand trial in the so-called “French Bukkake” case, where 50 vulnerable women were tricked into submitting to violent sex acts for online pornography, many later also facing extortion as they sought to remove the footage from the public domain.

French police have been undertaking a wider investigation into the links between pornography, prostitution and human trafficking. European Centre for Law & Justice researcher Priscilla Kulczyk argues that “pornography can even be described as a ‘hub’ for human trafficking ... it has close links with prostitution and pimping. They have in common the rental of bodies, for money, to satisfy others.”

Ms Kulczyk is advising that an ongoing review of the European directive on trafficking should restore a specific reference to pornography as a form of sexual exploitation linked to the criminal trade, which was removed in 2011, and consider it an aggravating factor in sentencing.

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