Je raconte mon histoire, la mienne et celle d’autres femmes, non pas parce que je la considère comme particulièrement significative, mais parce qu’elle m’a appris qu’exercer en tant que femme, dans les lieux de pouvoir, ne suffit pas. Il faut s’affirmer avec courage, prendre en compte et assumer le fait d’avoir un point de vue souvent différent, après avoir identifié et valorisé cette différence.
Time for Equality is pleased to announce that we will be soon publishing extracts in French from La giudice – Una donna in magistratura, a book by the Italian judge Paola Di Nicola, currently being translated by Laurent Ramette.
With La Giudice, a book halfway between biography and collective history of women in the judiciary, Paola Di Nicola made her literary debut in 2012.
Paola Di Nicola was born in 1966 in Offida, in the province of Ascoli Piceno. The daughter of a well-known anti-terrorism magistrate, her “bulky guide”, as she defines him in her book, she grew up surrounded by her father’s colleagues, who used to come to his house enjoying her mother’s “timballo di scrippelle.” Some of them died under the lead mafia and terrorism “to make our democracy complete.” Her experience in this family, in the shadow of the only possible model for a magistrate, the male one, pushed her to follow in her father’s footsteps, not imagining that the uniform of a magistrate “could change from man to woman.“
Currently Paola Di Nicola works at the Criminal Court of Rome and is backed by her experience as a magistrate in the field of civil, criminal and labour law, and as a judge in civil matters, real estate and criminal executions. Between 2009 and 2010 Di Nicola chaired the Board, specially set up at the Court of Naples, for the waste emergency in Campania.
Before she joined the judiciary, Di Nicola did not know that this profession had been closed to women by a conscious decision to exclude them. History, however, preserves the memory of this discrimination and La Giudice doesn’t shrink from re-examining the work of the Italian Constituent Assembly and its debates to decide whether or not to grant women the right to become judges. Di Nicola thus takes us to the library of the Court of Cassation, to the section holding the Assembly’s work, and offers us a glimpse of this fundamental episode in the history of the Italian Republic, retracing the variety of gender stereotypes used on this particular occasion, which painted a picture of women as hysterical and passionate or as a lovely kind of “sidekick” of masculine institutions.
In Italy, women were excluded from court not only as judges, but even as victims, and the author doesn’t leave the memory of these wounds behind, lingering for this reason on the well-known Latina rape trial. In 1978 the then 18-year-old Fiorella took four men, who had imprisoned and raped her for an entire day, to court. The proceedings were filmed and then broadcast the next year by RAI with the title Processo per stupro (Trial for Rape), offering the Italian public an image of violent justice towards women, to the point of seemingly acquiescing in the chumminess between the men present in court – the lawyers, the accused and the judges – but above all the transformation of the woman from victim to accused.
Why did Di Nicola, as a judge, come to ask herself whether belonging to the female gender made her less authoritative in front of those accused of offenses and in court? She offers a clear response over and over again in her book: like other female judges, she has inherited a history of exclusion from the judiciary and, like other women, she also brings with her a millennium of subordination and marginalisation.
In May 2013, Paola Di Nicola presented her book in Luxembourg, you can watch here a few videos (English subtitles) of the conference. On this occasion, Time for Equality founder and president Rosa Brignone talked with Paola di Nicola. For the English translation of the interview, please click here.