ITALY NEWS

For name's sake

New Balles for feminist law-makers
(issue no. 39/2006 / September 8, 2006)
Women parliamentarians have recently presented 13 different billsten to the House and three to the Senateto change a law that blocks children from taking their mothers name unless the father is unknown. Parliament is slated to discuss the issue when it opens after the summer recess. The bills feature a wide range of possible ways of breaking with hundreds of years of tradition. Some propose that parents choose which family name to give their child at birth, as in Britain. Others suggest a dual-surname system be adopted, with chil-dren taking one surname from both parents, as in Spain.

Female lawmakers are confident that enough bipartisan support can be garnered to overcome conservative opposition, which has blocked change in the past, especially since the April elections won by the centre left saw the number of women in parliament increase sharply. Italys parliament now contains a record 148 female senators and deputies, up from 95 in the last legislature.

Italys Supreme Court and Constitutional Court have both criticized the current system and called on parliament for reform. In February, the Constitutional Court described it as a dated legacy of a patriarchal concept of the family that is no longer consistent with the consti-tutional principle of equality between men and women. It also pointed out that the current legislation goes against several international conventions and recommendations by the European Council. The Constitutional Court made its call for reform after deciding that the law left a no scope to overrule Milan city councils refusal to allow a couple to give their daughter her mothers surname.

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