Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day, a time when we celebrate women and their achievements. Sadly, it is a day when we also look at how women are still persecuted, mistreated and killed across the world even in so-called enlightened cultures.
Despite all the sun and sea, Spain has a very bad reputation for men beating and killing their wives and partners. This is partly due to the fact that during the years when General Franco was in power, it was considered nothing more than a misdemeanor and the ‘machismo’ attitude that the man rules the house continues to this day. Part of the increase in the problem has been due to the change in working patterns with many more women now out at work and therefore more financially independent and less likely to put up with bad behavior from their partners. Women in Spain have said in the past that most of the judges in Spain are old, conservative men who do not see the issue as particularly important. However, in a survey by the ‘Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas’ (CIS) in 2001, 96% of the Spanish population thought that domestic violence was unacceptable in any circumstances.
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of controlling and aggressive behaviour from one partner to the other. It does not just include physical violence, however, as the abuse can also be sexual, psychological and emotional. Whilst it is usually the man who attacks the woman, in a small number of cases it can be the other way round.
Fortunately, the government of Spain has taken some very positive steps to try and reduce the rate of domestic violence and crackdown on the crime. They now have specially trained police units, with female officers and a specific telephone number for victim’s or people who suspect a domestic violence crime is taking place, to call. There are also a number of refuges for battered women.
Latest figures available from the National Institute of Statistics in Spain show that in 2011, 61 women were killed by their partners.The figures do not show how many suffered serious injuries. As the economy in Spain and other European countries worsens, it seems likely that the figures will increase.
South Africa is believed to be the country with the highest rates of violence against women. Having said that, domestic violence happens in every culture at every class level. Whether you live in a white, middle class neighbourhood, or a village in India or Africa, if you hear a woman screaming, will you just ignore it?
If you are a victim, or believe that someone you know is suffering, get help. Follow this link for more information wherever you live.