Scope of ‘gender violence’ to cover all women victims

Ángeles Carmona (center), president of Spanish gov't Domestic & Gender Violence Monitoring Agency. Photo: Europa Press

► Agency to consider murder of all women by men potential gender violence ►

The Spanish government agency charged with monitoring gender violence and domestic abuse will immediately begin tabulating and considering all cases in which a woman is killed by a man as potential gender violence. The move marks a first step toward closing a huge lacuna in existing Spanish legislation and is in line with the government’s agreement under the all-party Pacto de Estado contra la Violencia de Género (National Plan Against Gender Violence) to expand the fight against machista sexual assault against women and children in Spain.

Ángeles Carmona, president of Spanish government’s Oservatorio contra la Violencia Doméstica y de Género (Domestic and Gender Violence Monitoring Agency), told reporters Monday that this year her agency will begin analyzing for the first time all cases involving assault and homicide against women, with the aim of classifying any death of a woman at the hands of a male assailant as a crime of gender violence, regardless of the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.

Current legislation in Spain defines murders of women and/or their children as gender violence only when the homicide is carried out by the woman’s current or former partner, effectively restricting the gender violence definition to domestic abuse. The crime of gender violence is considered aggravated assault in Spain and carries additional jail time for the perpetrator, if found guilty by a court of law.

According to the latest available Spanish government figures for 2017, a total of 57 women and eight children were victims of gender violence last year, having been murdered by a man with whom they shared a relationship at the time of their murder or previously. Analysts note that despite a 2017 spike in incidences of gender violence in Spain, the number of women killed by current or former domestic partners has steadily declined over the past decade and Spain has one of the lowest rates of domestic violence murders in Europe.

According to Observatorio president Carmona, the decision to begin immediate tabulation of all cases of murder of women and children with the aim of potentially classifying them as gender violence comes as the government begins developing new classifications and levels of punishment for violence by men against women and children.

The anticipated changes to the law and sentencing regimes are in keeping with the terms of the pact against gender violence agreed last year by all political parties in Congress and awaiting the signature of Spanish President Mariano Rajoy.

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