A judge presiding over gender-violence cases in Madrid is facing a possible 6,000-euro fine after having been caught on CCTV camera referring to the presumed victim in a domestic abuse case as an hija e puta (literally, “daughter of a bitch”) and a bicho, Spanish slang for a “bad woman” and frequently used because of its similarity to the English “bitch” to mean the same thing.
The plaintiff in the case, actress María Sanjuán, immediately filed a complaint against Judge Francisco Javier Martínez Derqui, who presides over the 7th Court for Gender Violence in Madrid and now faces a disciplinary review and sanctions that could include suspension and a fine for his remarks.
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Feminist organizations have long complained of a machista bias among judges in Spain’s largely male-dominated judiciary system and hailed as an advance the recent inclusion of funding for education and sensitivity training of judges and courtroom personnel in the dedicated gender violence courts across Spain. That funding is provided for in the all-party National Pact against Gender Violence and included in legislation pushed through Congress by the governing Socialist party in September.
As the plaintiff in the gender-violence case, Sanjuán had filed suit with the court for psychological abuse due to alleged death threats and coercion from her ex-husband, following their divorce. Martínez Derqui was to decide on the custody of the couple’s two children, aged 21 and 10 months old.
A courtroom CCTV camera caught the judge and female court officials criticizing Sanjuán’s appearance, making pejorative comments about her age and ridiculing her over her claims of psychological abuse and physical danger.
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