Domestic violence and womens rights in Spain.

Today the State Home Secretary, Antonio Camacho, and the Chairwoman of the Observatory Against Domestic Violence and Abuse, Montserrat Comas, have their first meeting to discuss the latest case of domestic violence in Spain which occurred despite the fact that the man accused of murdering his former wife and two children, had a court order to stay away from his family and from his former home. Camacho and Comas want to see how they can enforce such court orders in order to protect victims of domestic abuse.

The whole of Spain has been shocked by the fact that the woman burned to death in her home with with her children this weekend had repeatedly asked for protection and was scared of being left on her own with the children in her home because of threats received from her violent ex-partner. In the past 4 months, 19 women and 4 children have been killed in Spain as a result of domestic abuse – on average one woman dies per week at the hands of her partner or ex-partner.

Under Franco, domestic violence was not even considered to be a crime, and divorce was illegal in Spain until 1981.

When Zapatero became President last month he described Spain’s domestic violence record as the country’s “worst shame” and an “unacceptable evil”. The first draft of a new “gender violence” law has already been passed and the Socialists aims to bring new domestic violence legislation before parliament by the summer.

Last week the Spanish Minister for Work and Social Affairs, Jesus Caldera, said Spanish society needed to change its general attitudes towards women, which should be impressed upon school children through the study of “ethics and equality”. Caldera has challenged the way women are portrayed in Spanish adverts, and has announced the government’s intention to break women’s “chains of dependence” on their partners by improving their employment possibilities and providing accommodation alternatives.

Sr. Zapatero has promised to make equality between the sexes “an emblematic task” and has already appointed as many women as men to serve in his Government. Interestingly, the Socialists received more votes from women than from men in the last general elections which suggests that their message certainly got through to a large section of the feminine vote who now expect them to deliver their promises.