Spontaneous demonstrations spring up across Spain in outrage over gender violence cases

Tenerife was the focus of the protests after the body of six-year-old Olivia, thought to have been killed by her father, was found at the bottom of the sea off the Canary Island

Demonstrators in Madrid on Friday. Video: The protests across Spain (Spanish audio).

Spontaneous protests were held on Friday across Spain to reject gender violence, after the body of a six-year-old girl named Olivia was found by search teams on the sea bed off the Canary Island of Tenerife. Olivia and her sister Anna, aged one, have been missing since April and are assumed to have been killed by their father, Tomás Gimeno. The suspect in the case called the girl’s mother the day of the disappearance to tell her she would never see the girls again.

The center of Santa Cruz de Tenerife saw around 800 people come out to protest on Friday evening. “We are sad, we are indignant,” said Saray and Verónica, two law students who were in attendance. Just a few kilometers away from the square, the Ángeles Alvariño vessel continued its search for the body of Anna. The majority of the people who came out to express their repulsion for the murders were young women.

In the week of May 17 alone, five women were killed in gender violence cases in Spain. One of these victims was pregnant, while a child also died in such an incident. Since that day, more than half of the total gender violence killings in 2021 so far have taken place. Since 2013, 41 children have been killed and 1,096 women have lost their lives since 2003 in such incidents.

We need feminist education from an early age to combat this violence, because these men aren’t crazy or sick, they are healthy children of the patriarchy
Protestor Marta Carramiñana

The protestors were moved to take to the streets after the deaths of Olivia and Anna, and in support of their mother, Beatriz. But also for 17-year-old Rocío Caíz, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend, with whom she had a four-month-old baby. Her killer butchered her in Estepa, Seville, and then went off to get a night’s sleep. Days later, on Thursday evening, he confessed to the killing.

“They are murdering us and we want to stay alive,” said Marta Carramiñana, 31, and a member of the Madrid Feminist Movement and the 8-M women’s day movement. These are just two of the dozens of organizations that channeled the anger seen on social media into the demonstrations on Friday. “We need feminist education from an early age to combat this violence, because these men aren’t crazy or sick, they are healthy children of the patriarchy,” she explained.

Thousands of women came out onto the streets of Spain’s capital cities but also small towns and villages. In Madrid, around 2,000 people braved the rain to protest in the central Puerta del Sol. The crowd was mostly made up of women, but there were some men and children there too. “I’m really hurting,” said Inés Monroy, 67, who carried a sign in a plastic folder saying, “Rocio, Olivia, Anna. When will it stop? How many will there be?”

In Seville, Andalusia, an improvised altar was created where women left candles. At the other end of the country, in A Coruña, Galicia, Pilar, 80, was at the head of the demonstration. “I got divorced in 1988 due to psychological abuse and I suffered the hypocrisy of society,” she explained. “I even stopped going to confession, because the priest told me that I should put up with it. I don’t think we have moved on. We have [far-right party] Vox, who want women back in the home.”

In Barcelona, around 600 people came out to protest according to the local police, shouting slogans such as: “The feminists are here!” Most were youngsters, such as Luca, an 18-year-old local. “It’s scandalous, all of the deaths so far this year. It’s an outrage,” she said.

People leave flowers in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in memory of sisters Anna and Olivia.
People leave flowers in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in memory of sisters Anna and Olivia.Miguel Velasco Almendral

For some months now, the issue of gender violence has been figuring prominently in the public discourse. Media personality Rocío Carrasco, for example, has been appearing on television to detail the abuse that she claims she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband. Also this week, flamenco singer Diego El Cigala was arrested after being reported for physical and psychological abuse by his partner. “Women always want money,” he told reporters when released from custody. His words caused indignation at a time of widespread outrage over the case of the missing girls in Tenerife.

“We’re not dying, they’re killing us!” came the chants in San Sebastián, in the Basque Country on Friday night. The protest ended with cries of “not one more [victim],” and with calls for justice. In Valencia, more than a thousand people responded to the spontaneous protest. Among them, José Fernández, a 21-year-old student. “We have come to express solidarity and denounce femicides,” he explained. “This is sexist violence.”

With reporting by: Guillermo Vega (Tenerife), Margot Molina (Seville), Javier Arroyo (Granada), Marta Pinedo (Madrid), Carlos Garfella (Barcelona), Caridad Bermeo (Santiago), Sonia Vizoso (A Coruña), Mikel Ormazabal (San Sebastián), Nacho Sánchez (Málaga), Ferrán Bono (Valencia) and Juan Navarro (Valladolid).

English version by Simon Hunter.

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