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Government agrees €1bn investment and 200 new steps to eradicate domestic violence
SPAIN'S government has agreed 200 measures and an investment of €1 billion towards the battle against domestic violence, and a taskforce will meet on Monday (July 24) to tie up loose ends.
Next, on Friday, the Commission for Equality will approve or reject the text and add amendments if necessary.
Statistically, violent crime in Spain is among the lowest in the world, but the majority of it happens behind closed doors – in fact, so far this year, 31 women have been murdered by their current or former husbands or boyfriends, double the figure for the whole of 2016.
And that does not include men or women killed by partners or spouses of the same sex, men murdered by their wives or girlfriends, or violent deaths of parents, siblings or offspring.
This said, figures show that the overwhelming majority of domestic violence victims – or at least, those who report their ordeal or whose trauma is discovered when it has cost them their lives – continue to be women, and their perpetrators continue to be men.
Opposition parties within the government consider the financial investment, of €200 million per year for the next five years, to be 'acceptable' and a 'substantial improvement' on the initial proposal of €6 million over the same period, or €1.2m per annum.
Some of the measures due for discussion include restructuring social services and the assistance given to victims who are brave enough to come forward.
This means the criteria for all-round help will be relaxed – until now, many victims were denied attention unless they were in possession of a restraining order against their aggressor, which can take months to obtain and the wait can be fatal.
And a few of the more recent fatal victims had applied for such an injunction and had it denied by a judge.
Jurisdiction for handling domestic violence cases will be placed with local authorities, since they are closer to the problem and will be able to design the necessary specialist, urgent and multi-disciplinary approaches.
The overall aim is that those who report their ordeal can be taken immediately to a safe haven along with their children if they have any, and without having to worry about supporting themselves financially in the meantime.
Many victims who do not speak out continue to tolerate abuse because they either have no income of their own, or do not earn enough to feed themselves and their children without their aggressor's salary.
Steps due to be taken are also likely to cover custody and access, given that women's associations in Spain have alerted of violent men being allowed to see their children unsupervised or even live with them – situations that have, in a few cases, led to wife-beaters harming or killing the youngsters, often to 'get back at' the children's mothers for leaving the relationship.
Social services have also been working closely with schools to teach children from a very young age that it is not acceptable to use violence against partners, nor to subject them to excessive control and invasion of privacy – such as constantly checking their emails and text messages and demanding to know where they are at all times – and to stress to youngsters that if they do suffer any behaviour that makes them uncomfortable, they should tell someone straight away.
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