Spain’s Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling Wednesday that moves the aggravated circumstance of gender violence attaching to a crime beyond the realm of domestic violence and allows its application to crimes involving violence toward any woman, regardless of her relationship to the aggressor.
In a ruling in the case of a Syrian man accused of repeated abuse and attempted murder of his wife in Barcelona, judges from the Penal Section of the high court stayed an appeal of a lower court verdict that found the man guilty of the crimes involved, with sentencing increased on two counts for the aggravated circumstances of both gender violence and domestic violence, bringing the total sentence to 11 years in jail and 404,500 euros indemnity paid to the victim.
The man’s lawyers had appealed the lower court verdict to the Supreme Court, claiming the defendant could not be sentenced on both counts of aggravated violence. The Supreme Court judges disagreed, however, confirming the lower court’s verdict and the sentence.
But in their ruling, the judges went a step further to rule that the aggravated circumstance of gender violence as defined in Article 22.4 of the Penal Code can be applied in any case in which the evidence demonstrates that a violent crime has been committed with “actions that imply the domination of a man towards a woman simply for the fact that she is a woman.”
Until the ruling on Wednesday, the use of the aggravated circumstance of gender violence had only ever been applied to domestic violence crimes committed by a woman’s current or former husband or intimate partner, excluding all other cases in which a victim may have been attacked for being a woman, but the aggressor was a man she did not know or with whom she was not nor had never been in a domestic relationship.
Moving forward, the high court justices ruled, in Spain’s court system the aggravated circumstance of gender violence now “must be applied in all those cases in which it has been proven that the perpetrator has committed the acts against the woman victim for the mere fact of her being (a woman) and with the intention in confronting her of making clear his feeling of superiority over her.”
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