The number of victims is still increasing, and they are younger than before
At the end of a bad week, which saw one murder after another of women at the hands of their partners or ex-partners, gender violence has already taken a toll of 23 victims this year so far. Both this figure — which exceeds that of last year at the same date — and the particular nature of the cases that have arisen point to an upturn in gender violence, while at the same time there has been a downturn in formal complaints of abuse filed by women. A closer inspection of the cases that have occurred this year reveals some very worrying facts.
The first is that a majority of the women murdered had not filed complaints with the police. Indeed, only five had begun any sort of legal proceedings against their aggressor. This fact suggests that there is not enough confidence among abused women with regard to the support that the public authorities can supply.
The number of complaints has fallen by 10 percent since 2008. According to judicial figures, 32,242 women suffered abuse in Spain in 2011, while in the same year 7,744 legal actions were brought for domestic violence.
The reduction in the various public budgets assigned to prevention programs — averaging 21 percent — and a similar 18-percent reduction in expenditure on gender equality policies do not suggest that we can expect any improvement in the statistics. It has always been a received view that, if the struggle against gender violence is to produce substantial and lasting results, it must be overall and comprehensive, and sustained in time — a principle that is now being disregarded, with notably tragic consequences.
Another especially worrying fact is that a considerable proportion of the women now being murdered are young, and that, among the women who file complaints for abuse, an increasing percentage are under 29 years of age. This indicates that the chauvinism that foments violent behavior is still being repeated among the younger generation, and that relationships of male dominance, far from being a dwindling leftover of the past, are still very much alive and being actively perpetuated.
For a lack of other role models, many young people are still building their identities on a basis of domination and possession. This unwelcome yet undeniable fact points to a resounding failure in social policy and, in particular, to a failure in the educational system. It is important to take the matter of domestic violence into account, now that the Popular Party government’s latest reforms to teaching in schools have done away with the only subject — civic education — that dealt with this question. We cannot allow any retrogression in the measures and legal instruments designed to curb gender violence, or let our guard down in terms of social and cultural policies in the face of this intolerable aggression.