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First-ever rape crisis centre in Spain to open in September
SPAIN'S first-ever rape crisis centre is set to open in September and will include a free 24-hour helpline with multi-lingual operators.
Counselling, emergency medical treatment, support and accompanying victims to police stations and hospitals are among the services provided round the clock, 365 days a year.
A multi-disciplinary approach will help victims from the moment they suffer the attack onwards, including medium-term monitoring.
The support person allocated will encourage the victim to describe the assault and accompany him or her if required, so he or she does not have to keep repeating the same story over and again, reliving the trauma.
Although the centre is based in Madrid and run by the city council, rape or sexual assault victims from anywhere in Spain can call them and seek help by phone.
A 'cultural mediation' service will be involved to ensure sensitive treatment for women of other races or religions where ethnic characteristics may make the experience in Spain more traumatic.
Examples of this could be, perhaps, where a victim's culture means she feels ashamed at being raped and may be treated as a 'loose woman' by her family or community or as 'unfaithful' by her husband.
The service, due to open after summer, is closely based upon the UK's and the Republic of Ireland's Rape Crisis Centre and responds to the European Union recommendation of at least one assistance network of this type being available for every 200,000 women.
Head of gender, diversity and equality at Madrid city council, Celia Mayer, says she hopes the centre's creation will inspire other towns and cities in Spain to follow suit.
“Sexual violence is one of the types of gender violence that has the greatest impact on women's lives and is one that is the least developed, institutionally,” Sra Mayer says.
“This means it is also one of the types that is less likely to be reported.”
Research carried out in 2015 by the central government's ministry of social services into sexual harassment and assault produced figures it believes could be very easily extrapolated to practically the whole of the western world, and are not just Spain-specific.
They found that 14% of women have suffered some form of sexual violence at some point in their lives, either by acquaintances, total strangers, partners, ex-partners or family members.
A total of 97% of women suffer, or have suffered, some form of sexual harassment when they have been out at night, a study by the Health and Community Foundation (FSC), presented in Barcelona this week, found.
Their investigation revealed that 81% of women have put up with groping or other unwanted physical contact that was clearly not of a platonic or 'merely friendly' nature, 86% have suffered constant verbal pressure and hassle despite persistently refusing, 97% have been the target of 'uncomfortable' comments of a sexual nature from men, 44% have been 'cornered' or felt 'unable to get away', and 22.5% raped, although only 5% have been physically overcome in order to be attacked, with the others being cases of 'date rape', or men taking advantage of them when they were asleep, unconscious or drunk, or who were afraid to fight back in case it cost them their lives and opted to freeze or 'play dead', literally or metaphorically.
The stratified sample covered surveys by 1,500 women aged 16 and over across Spain, and show that over half of women who go out at night modify their behaviour – the way they dress, where they go, and how much they drink – as a precaution, or either go out in groups for 'safety in numbers' or opt not to go out at all.
Half of respondents say they have suffered sexual harassment, from 'awkward' comments and persistence through to full-blown rape, on public transport, making this the third-most likely place where it would happen – parties, fiestas, clubs or anywhere involving alcohol are where 78% of women say they have put up with unwanted male attention, and 62% say they have suffered it when walking or sitting alone outside in public.
According to the FSC, who also surveyed men, a total of seven in 10 who go out partying have two main aims: to get drunk and to have sex.
Among them, it is likely that a significant number are only interested in consenting sex, but the survey results were, by definition, unable to clarify this, since the research was based upon self-report.
It did show, however, that 18% of men on nights out have offered alcohol or drugs to women to try to get them into bed.
Spain is, statistically, one of the safest countries in Europe, if not the world, and has one of the planet's lowest violent crime rates, so the survey authors believe the figures could apply in any first-world nation and could well be even higher in many of these.
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