But over on the Italian island of Sicily, things were not looking quite so bright for women. Although most of the country had seen a rise in equality since the end of World War Two, Sicily – in common with much of Italy’s south – was often perceived as being somewhat behind the times. And while industrial development in the north brought opportunities for women, many in the country’s poorer regions still struggled against degradation and abuse.
One such area was the town of Alcamo, located close to Palermo on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea. And it was there, on January 9, 1948, that a girl named Franca Viola was born. The daughter of Vita Ferra and her husband Bernardo Viola, who worked as a farmer, Franca soon grew into a beautiful young woman.
In 1963 Franca began a relationship with Filippo Melodia, the 23-year-old nephew of a local mafia figure. But even though the pair became engaged, Bernardo ordered his daughter to end things after Filippo got in trouble with the law. Afterwards, he disappeared to Germany, and Franca fell in love with another man.