LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A man threw acid in the face of a 46-year-old woman in the Italian city of Genoa on Monday in what investigators suspect was a crime of passion, Italian media reported.
The woman, a divorcee and mother-of-two, was attacked at the Galliera hospital where she worked as a cleaner. She was rushed to another hospital where she is being treated for severe burns in one eye and all over her face and arms, according to the newspaper Il Secolo XiX.
“I heard a chilling scream so I ran and found my colleague with her uniform ripped apart and burns on her face,” said one of the victim’s co-workers who poured water on her to try to alleviate the pain before taking the victim to the hospital’s emergency department.
The identity of the aggressor is still unknown and local police are investigating the attack after speaking to the victim.
According to preliminary testimonies, the woman was just about to start her shift when a man attacked her just outside a locker room where she had changed into her work clothes, the paper said.
This is the fifth reported case of a woman being disfigured by acid in Italy this year – an alarming trend some commentators say may have been set in motion by the flurry of media reports surrounding these cases.
Violence against women is a hotly-debated issue in Italy at the moment, partly because of a series of recent gruesome crimes that were widely reported in both national and international media.
Italy’s government recently passed a package of measures to tackle the problem, the Guardian reported last week. These include stiffer penalties for certain forms of domestic violence and a measure blocking complainants from withdrawing reports of abuse.
"We believe that in our country there was a need to give a very strong sign – not only a sign but … a radical change on this issue," Prime Minister Enrico Letta said.