September 21, 2020

Europe tests other ways to protect victims of sexist violence | Society

A police officer for each victim from entering through the door until he is out of danger. At a police station in Porto they have treated 8,961 people in six years and report that they have not had a single death to regret. Eight out of 10 people attended were women. It is a pilot project, the Police Victims Support Cabinet, specializing in combating gender and domestic violence (among members of the same family within the home). This police station, led by Superintendent Telma Fernandes, is one of the initiatives presented and discussed in Strasbourg, at a conference for police and Interior officials organized earlier this week by the Council of Europe.

For two days, about thirty specialists from different countries shared their experiences to improve the protection of victims. They agreed that the training and specialization of the agents must be improved to ensure that the victims trust the police more and to seek alternative paths to the complaint. "We need good witnesses. We need to look for evidence beyond the victim's statement," said Sabine Kräuter of the Group of Experts in the fight against violence against women of the Council of Europe (GREVIO). "If the victim is not the only test against the aggressor, we have more options," he added during his speech in the conference, to which EL PAÍS was invited as a participant.

"We react to the complaint of the victims that every time they must go to the police because they have suffered an aggression, they have to talk to a different person, and that does not generate confidence," explains the Portuguese commissioner Fernandes about the GAIV project. "When you are attended by the same person you do not have to repeat all the ordeal, the agent who supervises you already knows the history and has the whole panorama," he says. The project has 17 police officers and will be extended to two other cities, Matusiños and Maia.

In April, Spain released a similar experience: a police station only for victims of the gender violence in Valencia with nine agents, all women specialized in the subject, a psychologist and a social worker. The head of gender violence in the Secretariat of Security of the Ministry of Interior, Marina Rodríguez, shared in Strasbourg some of the keys of the VioGen system, the police questionnaire that must be completed by the victims who come to report and determine the level of risk at They are subject.

Spain, with a specific gender violence law passed in 2004, is one of the pioneer countries in Europe in this area. The Spanish data reflect one of the aspects addressed in Strasbourg: the worrying lack of complaints. 70% of women killed in Spain for their partners or ex-partners never denounced their aggressor. The State Pact against Gender Violence, approved in the Spanish Congress in 2017, provides for other measures that can help detect cases even if victims do not give the alarm: from sanitary screening -It is the attending physician who warns to be valued- to the participation of social workers or other people who care for women locally. Most of the covenant measures have not yet been implemented.

Europe tests other ways to protect victims of sexist violence

There is an agreement to stop the violence to which 46 countries are already signed inside and outside the limits of the European Union. The Council of Europe Convention on prevention and fight against violence against women and domestic violence, the so-called Istanbul Convention, was approved in 2011. It includes taking all necessary measures so that “the competent security forces and bodies respond to quickly and effectively to all forms of violence ”and to give“ adequate and immediate protection to the victims ”.

"If there were much more effort in which the victim feels that she really is believed, all those withdrawal of denunciations would be avoided", values ​​Cristina Fabré, expert in gender violence of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).

Lack of homologated data

Another aspect to improve is the lack of homologous data that allows to know which countries have more effective measures and compare results. "They would be necessary to be more aware of the dimension of the problem," Fabré adds. "Having data would also counteract that discourse in which gender is so poorly visible. I am afraid that we are adopting a message so neutral that it believes that any measure is valid for any victim. We need data separated by sexes that will help us measure effectiveness. of the measures and see if something is transferable to another country, "concludes this expert.

The forum also presented measures based on social networks. At the end of 2017, an initiative started in France that started with the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron. A police chat in which victims and witnesses can make anonymous consultations with the police. It is not for urgent cases, which are referred to a specific telephone. “It helps them tell what happens to them, so they think about the problem they are facing. And they also have a psychologist available, ”explains French police commander Sandrine Masson.

For now, as with the Portuguese project, it is a pilot plan that only has 16 agents and on which there is still little data. The majority of the 4,000 people who contacted the service are women and almost one in four, minors. They still don't know how many of those queries end up in complaints.

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