Femicides, an evil difficult to control

A recent rise in sexist murders in Spain once again put the focus on this “social tragedy” that the country, often seen as a model in the fight against gender violence, fails to tackle.

Eleven years ago, Esther managed to survive in Galicia (northwest). “There were a lot of things along the way that I didn’t know how to see,” laments this 30-year-old woman, who declines to give her last name. “Psychological violence (…) we have it quite bleached and very normalized,” she deplores.

One day, her partner “tried to throw[la] through a balcony. Saved by a neighbor, she denounced her partner, accompanied by a relative who opened her eyes and made her see the signs she had ignored: her growing isolation, criticism of her way of dressing, the nights she was forced to sleep in the floor.

But, nevertheless, she considers herself a “survivor” and not a victim. “The victims are the ones who are no longer here to tell about it,” he says.

In December, eleven women were murdered by their partner or ex-partner in Spain, according to official figures. The deadliest month since 2008. In January, there were seven femicides.

A “social tragedy”, in the words of the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska. “This is not a private issue, as was understood in the past,” he stressed at the end of December.

Eight years

In an anonymous office with purple walls, a dozen operators answer calls for possible gender violence.

“016, good morning, how can I help you? OK, keep calm down. Is he here next to you right now?”

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In service for 15 years, the number surpassed 102,000 calls in 2022, a record.

016 “is the first step to get out of a violent situation (…) It is not about convincing anyone, but about explaining what is offered, informing them about the possibilities they have because the consequences (…) she faces”, explains its general coordinator, Susana Gálvez.

Despite the will of the authorities in this country, which for twenty years has prioritized the fight against gender violence, victims take an average of 8 years and 8 months to file a complaint, and between 12 to 20 years in rural areas, according to Teresa Peramato, attorney general in charge of violence against women.

“Many times they are the first to not detect that they are suffering violence.” reports Peramato.

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