In past years on the occasion of the UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Madrid’s 57-member municipal council and the 132-deputy Madrid regional Assembly have unanimously come out against gender violence, issuing unequivocal all-party condemnations of domestic abuse and violence against women.
Not so this year, however, as both Spain’s capital city and the regional assembly failed to issue a cross-party condemnation of gender violence because of the objection of four VOX Madrid city councilors and 12 regional deputies from the ultra-right party, the same VOX politicians who following last Spring’s elections were key to denying progressive-left victories and handing control of the municipal council and and the regional government to the conservative Partido Popular.
Javier Ortega-Smith, party general secretary and leader of the VOX delegation in Madrid’s city council, was was not let off lightly, however, when in an event Monday at city hall he aired the party’s oft-repeated position that gender violence is an invention and claimed that men are equally victimized by women in domestic relationships.
More than half the audience walked out during the VOX leader’s remarks, following which he was confronted over his views on gender violence and immigration by Nadia Otmani, an immigrant and president of Spain’s Asociación de Mujeres Marroquíes (Association of Moroccan Women). In 1997, Otmani was shot three times while trying to defend her sister, Rashida, from abuse at the hands of her domestic partner and has since spent more than two decades in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down.
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Wheeling her chair up close to a seated Ortega-Smith after his remarks, Otmani tried to engage the VOX leader, telling him that “Yes, we have to improve the law but it does work because it has managed to help women get out of very complicated situations”.
Completely ignored by Ortega-Smth, who would not look at her to acknowledge her presence, Otmani proceeded to give the VOX leader an earful over his party’s anti-immigration rhetoric and its denial that domestic abuse is principally directed by men against women.
“I’ve been fighting against gender violence for more than 20 years”, Otmani shouted at the VOX leader, and “when it comes to violence against women, you don’t play politics”.
► ► WATCH NADIA OTMANI EXPLAIN WHY SHE CONFRONTED VOX LEADER ► ►
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