Why can’t we tell women?

“A small correction, because a few minutes ago the police station released a note specifying that the third victim is not a transsexual but a, ahem, woman”.

Was that of TG2 correspondent Vincenzo Frenda really a necessary clarification to be made live? Or rather, we should rather ask ourselves: it was necessary to insist for hours on the fact that the third victim of what the majority of Italian newspapers seem to have already renamed the serial killer of prostitutes is a transsexual/a transsexual person/a transsexual/a transsexualto name just a few of the ways (none of them correct) in which journalists have referred to Martha Castanothe 65-year-old stabbed to death in her apartment in via Durazzo in Rome?

The 25 November approaches, with its load of rhetoric and pinkwashing but still – despite appeals, deontological codes and workshops – as a journalist we have not learned to tell women. In life but, above all, in the moment of death. This is particularly true when victims of violent acts belong to ethnic minorities (the two victims of via Riboty, generically identified only as Chinese) or to those who are discriminated against, such as prostitutes or members of the Lgbtq+ community.

Tomorrow is celebrated Transgender Day of Remembrance 2022the day introduced in 1999 to commemorate the victims of hatred and prejudice towards transgender people. And we, once again, faced with the corpses of the victims of a triple murder committed in the heart of what likes to be defined as the Rome wellwe can only ask ourselves: why can’t we even use the correct terms? Isn’t this also violence?

Words are importantNanni Moretti already shouted it almost 35 years ago, yet this simple truth doesn’t want to (or can’t?) enter our heads.

In this case, then, the real question is: why this insistence on the fact that one of the victims was a/a transsexual person before having even confirmed it? What did gender identity add to the reporting of eventsthe if not an itchy detail to tickle the click of users, in defiance of all respect for a woman – does it make a difference if biologically such or not? – brutally killed? They teach us to respect the principle of the essentiality of information: was this detail, essential?

My family and I literally live next door to the crime scene; the building where the murders took place is next to mine and to divide the two apartments I think there is only the wall of my kitchen. I think that anyone who lives in this street has heard at least once of the phantom brothels spread between a notary and a law firm and a stone’s throw from the Courthouse in Piazzale Clodio.

Yet in tant ə they pretend to be shockedə and they hide behind the fact that “this is a quiet and respectable neighbourhood,” as if prostitution were more capable of upsetting us with our tarnished reputation than a triple murder committed on the landing opposite ours.

Declassify the crime as the murder of three escorts it just helps us to reduce its emotional impactas if the fact of prostitution – still to be ascertained and at the moment proven only by chatter from condominiums and residents – was in itself sufficient to make what could be a less unexpected multiple femicide.

The data tells us that in Italy a woman dies – for the mere fact of being a woman – every 3 days. Is it less serious if this woman is a sex worker, or if there is a Y in her chromosomes?

After all, it’s not the same result we get by hiding behind the serial killer threat? If we rely on the standard definition, a serial killer is someone who “commits three or more murders in distinct locations, separated by a period of time, characterized by an emotional cooling phase”.

It is evident that what struck Prati cannot at the moment be defined as such. Bringing it into play in high-alarm headlines and articles, however, has a double effect: far soar the number of clicks and summon a psychopathic, empathy-lacking monster that targets prostitutes. A very effective way of portraying and portraying a murderer (who as far as we know could also be a woman, but who we all already imagine as male) who looks much less like those who the statistics tell us are primarily responsible for the violence against women: mutual husbands, boyfriends, ex-partners, family members.


by Alessandro Leonardi
3 min read

Many Iranian women attend a protest in Tehran September 3, 2004. Protesters have called for harsh punishment for women who do not abide by the Islamic dress code which involves wearing a long dress and headscarf to hide the outlines of the body and hair in front of unknown men.

by Chiara Manetti
3 min read

Why can’t we tell women?