► Equating gender violence with ‘inter-family violence’ creates confusion
► VOX says gender violence ‘big lie’, same amount of violence against men
Law enforcement officials charged with enforcing Spain’s legislation against gender violence have expressed a growing concern with the continued, highly publicized insistence by Spain’s far-right VOX party that gender violence is a myth in Spain and that violence is equally meted out against women and men in domestic situations.
Most recently, the VOX party’s general secretary, Javier Ortega-Smith, has said that gender violence is “the big lie” at the heart of what he called “gender ideology” being promulgated by feminist groups and allied political parties.
Since surging into the national political limelight with initial election gains in regional elections in Andalucia last December, followed by a strong showing in regional and national elections in April and May, VOX has insisted that what has been portrayed as violence against women at the hands of male partners is merely part of what the party calls “inter-family violence” that is equal among women and men, demanding that prosecution of such violence carry equal penalties whether the perpetrator is male or female.
In regional communities where the party’s support has been crucial for the formation of conservative governments led by the Partido Popular (PP) and supported along with VOX by the centre-right Ciudadanos party, such as the Madrid and Andalucian communities, women’s rights activists and feminist groups have pointed out a softening of government policies aimed at combating violence against women that they say is due to the impact of the VOX rhetoric and party position.
Government law enforcement officials are now speaking out about what they say is a consequent confusion among prosecuting attorneys and regional courts nationwide, with a lack of clear national criteria for gender-violence prosecution leaving the door open to differential prosecution of the same crime by courts in different regional communities.
In July, Angeles Carmona, president of the national Domestic and Gender Violence Monitoring Agency of the government’s General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) said that to return to “confusing these concepts is without a doubt taking a step backwards and sends a very dangerous message to society and an absolutely heartbreaking message for women who are victims of gender violence”.
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