Italy to set up ethical code for institutions

December 14, 2001

Italy's universities are preparing to adopt codes of ethics aimed at combating sexual harassment, as required by a 1991 European Union directive on workplaces.

Equal opportunities committees, which will draft the codes, have been formed in about half of Italy's 60 universities. In two, Verona and Turin, a code of ethics has been included in official statutes.

With the newly established autonomy of universities, each institution is free to create its own code, but representatives from equal opportunities committees around Italy met this month in Turin to discuss basic principles.

"It is a difficult field to define," said Liliana Superchi, an administrative employee of Parma University, president of Parma's committee and national coordinator for the committees.

"Basically, we are dealing with sexual harassment and moral harassment. The victims are mainly students, who are in an inferior position to academics."

Ms Superchi said that students generally did not report sexual harassment.

"Essentially, we believe that the existence of a watchdog committee and the official adoption by universities of a code of ethics will encourage students to defend themselves."

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