Peace, at last, returned in 1945, bringing with it a new democratic Republic. The early post-war years, however, saw yet more hardship and hunger. Homes and economic infrastructure needed to be rebuilt and many women had to come to terms with bereavement or deal with traumatised or injured family members. Many had to adjust to the return of men after a period in which they had become used to acting independently. Some lost wartime employment. Those who had been raped or who had resorted to prostitution during the war faced particularly difficult problems. Even after the initial reconstruction was complete, huge social and economic problems remained. As a parliamentary enquiry at the beginning of the 1950s showed, many Italians lived in great poverty: 11.7 per cent of families were housed in shacks, attics, cellars or even caves, and were too poor to afford sugar or meat; 11.6 per cent were in very overcrowded dwellings (with at least three persons per room) and ate very poorly; 65.7 per cent were less impoverished but had, on average, two persons per room and spent more than half their income on food.1 Only a minority of homes benefited from modern conveniences.
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