Brussels (Brussels Morning) The end of Spain’s coronavirus restrictions has coincided with an unprecedented surge in domestic violence, with 12 women reported killed by their partners since 17 May. More domestic killings have been recorded in the past month than in the first four months of this year.
In a recent interview with El Pais, Victoria Rosell, the government delegate in charge of gender violence affairs, warned of another pandemic underlying the coronavirus pandemic – a gender violence pandemic. “When restrictions get lifted, you see what lay beneath”, she said.
Experts have been warning that domestic violence cases might surge during and after the pandemic, cautioning that the negative societal consequences of lockdowns were likely to disproportionately affect women.
Last Friday, a massive wave of spontaneous protests took place in Spain, after a six-year-old girl was found dead, presumed killed by her father and dumped at sea. The sudden surge in cases, coupled with public protests, has pushed the Socialist-led government to search for new solutions.
The total number of domestic violence victims, which the Spanish authorities have been keeping track of since 2003, has now grown to 1,098, with more than 60 women killed each year on average.
Spain’s Ministry of Equality embarked on a series of meetings with representatives of other government bodies, regional authorities and civil society actors in an attempt to analyse the current tools for curbing domestic violence, and to find new ways to improve and strengthen them.
One possible proposal, expected in the coming weeks, is a provision that would trigger active surveillance of potential offenders even when reported on by relatives of the victim, rather than requiring the victim herself to approach the police.
Experts acknowledge that such measures might have a limited reach. Currently, only some 2% of all cases are reported by relatives, while up to 80% of all domestic killings recorded were committed by perpetrators never previously reported to the police. Tackling these “concealed cases” before they turn fatal remains the key issue for the authorities to address.