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Italian women against the mafia


05 / 1999

In the summer of 1992, conceiving a war-act against Italian state, mafia killed in Sicilia the judges Giovanni Falcone e Paolo Borsellino, symbols of the fight against mafia.

In the first case, an highway was mined with a powerful bomb, and the judge died with his wife and with the three men that escorted him.

In the second case, a bomb-car destroyed an entire street (140 flats)and killed the judge and four men and a woman that escorted him.

The judge Paolo Borsellino was my brother. My experience in activism derives from these killings.

Up to that moment, my life had been my family, my children and my job as a pharmacist. The death of my brother and the destruction of my house obliged me to look around myself. In those days, in Palermo there had been the creation of pression groups, in order to protest against mafia and calling for a solution of the problem. They were composed mostly by women that protested using simple and punctual methods. For example:

- The "Women of the fasting" started an hunger-strike in order to ask for the destitution of those politicians who were responsible for the lack of protection that led to the death of the two judges;

- The "Women of the cloths" that exposed at the windows cloths with phrases against mafia written on them.

It was an important fact, because it meant the overcoming of silence and a public denounce of mafia. An association of "Women against mafia" already existed; her aim was to provide support to the women whose familiars had been killed or that had been harassed by mafia and to encourage them to denounce the criminals and to testify in Tribunal against them.

Therefore, I started to get in touch with these movements, that meant overcoming of fear, of silence and of resignation, that were the fertile ground on which mafia used to grow. It was important to group together and to collaborate.

Starting from a small number of associations, in 1994 a co-ordination of 730 associations was created; the co-ordination’s name is LIBERA (associations, names and numbers against mafias)and it regroups not only associations that fight specifically against mafias, but also cultural, sporting and volunteers associations, together with men, women and youths whose aim is to educate themselves and to educate others to legality, respect of the other, peace and non-violence. They fight against mafia as the denial of dignity and human rights.

Up to nowadays, LIBERA has promoted trainings for an education to legality and democracy that involved 8.000 teachers and almost 800.000 students, starting from primary school, as it’s basilar to form the children to respect and to peace.

Moreover, the training in primary schools can involve also the children of the mafia families, or of families living in a mafia environment proposing them values in opposition to those they are used to inside their families, where mostly mothers are guardians of mafia disvalues; the children can become the messengers of positive inputs inside their own family.

One important result of LIBERA has been the proposal, supported by 1 million signatures, of a law that allows the social use of lands and properties confiscated to mafia; the law was approved in the Italian Parliament in 1996, and nowadays, for example, a luxurious villa in Corleone (village of origin of some dangerous mafia leaders)has been confiscated to the head of mafia Tot Riina and is now a school.

Also some dangerous links between mafia and politics have started to be cleared up and many politicians are facing trials in these months.

Nowadays, it’s necessary to focus our attention on the internationalization of sicilian mafia and on the markets she’s running in collaboration with mafias all over the world. It’s not only drug, but also weapons, nuclear toxic wastes, prostitution, etc...

The main financial flows are controlled by mafia. Therefore, it’s important to organize ourselves and to internationalize the struggle. We should unite because only collaboration can give birth to concrete results.

LIBERA is looking for contacts with other countries and with similar associations, in order to extend as much as possible her educational programmes, that destroy the substrate of illegality, indifference and fears on which mafia develops.

Key words

mafia, violence, woman, civil society

, Italy


This text is a contribution to the workshop on ’women and peace’ organized by the Yin Yang (masculine-feminine)workshop of the Alliance for a plural, responsible and united world shortly before the Hague international Conference on Peace (may 1999).


Original text

LIBERA - Via Quattro novembre, 98, 00187 Roma, ITALIA - Italy - - libera (@)

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