MADRID – On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, people are taking to the streets all over Spain. They demand more attention for the phenomenon of ‘femicidios’, which has already claimed the lives of 52 women this year.
This number of femicides makes 2023 one of the worst years for violence against women. The first and last victims, Eva Aza and Carolina Vivas, are just two names in a long, tragic list of women murdered by (ex)partners.
In addition to physical attacks, women in Spain also suffer other forms of abuse, including psychological, sexual and economic violence. The 2022 European Survey on Violence against Women (EEVG) shows that almost five million Spanish women have been victims of violence by a partner or ex-partner.
Increase in sexual crimes
The number of crimes against sexual freedom, rape, stalking, assault, sexual harassment, etc., has also increased. According to the Home Office’s crime report, 9,560 such crimes were registered in the second quarter of 2023. That´s an increase of 13% compared to the previous year. However, this may also indicate a greater willingness to report such crimes.
Progress in equal rights
Despite the grim statistics, important strides have been made towards equality. The new ‘solo sí es sí’ law has led to a paradigm shift in the assessment of sexual crimes, with an emphasis on consent. The law has led to expanded protections for victims of sexual violence. Also, 65% of the 290 measures of the Pact against Gender Violence, which came into effect in 2017, have been implemented.
The future of equal rights
The new Equality Minister, Ana Redondo, has announced plans for further improvements. These include a joint representation law and extending maternity leave to 20 weeks. However, challenges remain, such as passing an anti-trafficking law and opening more specialised centres for victims of gender violence.
Youth and the denial of gender violence
It is also worrying how the denial discourse on gender violence, promoted by the far right of Vox, which threatens measures that will reverse progress made in recent years, is reaching young people in particular. There has been an increase in denial of gender violence among young men. A recent survey shows that 23% of young men believe gender violence “doesn’t exist or is an ideological fabrication,” an increase of eleven percentage points since 2019.
The increase in murders and other forms of violence against women has led to over 40 planned protests across Spain. Two different demonstrations are planned in Madrid. Meanwhile, large gatherings are also being organised in Barcelona, the Basque Country and Valencia.