A video received from the newsroom started the machinery in Woman to tell how help can be accessed if you are forced to live in confinement with an abuser.
This Wednesday we reached the wording of Woman a video I had made Carla Royo Villanova in which, in just a few seconds, he showed his support for victims of gender violence with a very clear message: you are not alone. “Since Saturday when the alarm state was decreed were the abused people the first ones that came to mind. Since then I have not stopped thinking about them and how terrible it must be to live secluded with your abuser. I think about his fear and the feeling of loneliness, “he explains. Carla Royo-Villanova, which indicates that it has always publicly shown its support for the victims. “Suffering violence at home is terrible, an ordeal, a nightmare. If it is done in normal times, why not do it now?”, He asks and adds, “the important thing is that all abused people know that they are not alone.”
Just thinking about what it must be like to be locked up with your abuser at home feels sorry. Fear, worry, vulnerability, danger … Indeed, the experience in China and Italy says that in the situation of confinement there is a rebound in gender violence and that it becomes much more difficult for women to ask for help. For this reason, in Spain, several administrations have launched specific initiatives to support victims in a year that is turning black for sexist violence.
The Ministry of Equality has driven a Contingency Plan against gender violence in the coronavirus crisis. If it is impossible for them to call 016, victims, for example, will be able to send an alert message by geolocation instant messaging that will be received by the State Security Forces and Corps.
In the Canary Community the Canary Institute of Equality together with the Canarian Government they have launched the Mask-19 campaign, which is that any woman who enters a pharmacy and asks for a mask 19, will be giving an alert and the staff will know that 112 must be notified.
We spoke with Amalia Fernández Doyague, lawyer and founder of Fernández Doyague Law Firm to know how help can be obtained against sexist violence in this extraordinary situation of health emergency and how citizens can also help if necessary.
Given the coronavirus crisis, in what situation are women victims of abuse?
The current exceptional situation implies that many women victims of gender violence who live with their partners will spend more time and space with their aggressors. In this situation, stressful in itself as the right of free movement has been limited, isolation can lead to increased aggressions. Many professionals who work daily with victims of gender-based violence have reported, since last week, an increase in calls was noted in the numbers of attention to women victims of male violence.
Can this health emergency increase the risk of aggression?
We must start from the fact that the year 2020 is being a black year for the fight against gender violence. Since the year began every week there have been murders of women at the hands of their partners or ex-partners. Although there is still not much data regarding the current situation, the 016 already notes an increase in calls. Thus, it is a shared experience of professionals that the increase in alerts and calls of victims of violence increases when victims and aggressors spend more time in homes. For example, the number of calls increases when the victim is on vacation with his abuser. Lacking current data, we must look at other countries where quarantine has been implemented as a consequence of Covid19. In China, during the quarantine, cases of gender violence tripled, and in Italy the number of complaints decreased, we understand that given the victim’s difficulty in making the complaint.
In a state of alarm, is it an exaggeration to say that you are, more than ever, at the mercy of your abuser?
No, it is not an exaggeration. It is clear that being locked up with your abuser aggravates the mistreatment situation, but we must adapt the ways of reporting this new situation. We must make our own, the motto that the feminist collective Free Chinese Feminism spread around China, ‘If you are at home and feel that your safety is not guaranteed, call the police. The virus is not an excuse for domestic violence. ’ The Government is already implementing measures according to the crisis situation that we are experiencing and we must remember that the victim care services (psychological care, medical care, urgent care floors, courts for violence against women, among other services) continue to operate. and many of them are being strengthened.
What kind of difficulties can women find to report or go to law enforcement and how can they be solved?
Being confined at home to your assailant, it is more difficult to contact law enforcement or the victim care service. Government guidelines indicate that people can only go outside for what is essential, without being able to go out in a group. The advice I offer is for victims to take advantage of calling these services when they are alone. It is recommended that they take advantage of the moments, when either the aggressor has gone out or the victim has gone out. In both situations, you can report the situation of abuse that you are experiencing:
What advice do you offer for them as a lawyer?
Women victims of abuse are advised to report their aggressor, that through the complaint a protocol of action and protection is initiated in which different professionals coordinate. The procedure for the victim is not easy, for this we must act in order to protect the woman and support the decision she has made so that she does not back down. I strongly recommend that victims of gender-based violence make use of the services available to them. The first step is to know that victims of gender violence have the right to receive free legal advice immediately before filing the complaint, and to free defense and representation by a lawyer and attorney in all processes and procedures. administrative that have direct or indirect cause in the violence suffered. It is highly recommended that they make use of this legal assistance prior to the complaint, and this because with this first great step, a judicial procedure is initiated that often depends on the first complaint of the victim.
At the moment in which the aggressor is denounced, right to medical assistance, to which you should be referred in the case of having injuries so that they perform a part of injuries, also to access psychological assistance, fundamental when carrying out a first psychological assessment and assistance, the psychological and emotional state of the victim must be reflected in a report. And, if the victim were a foreign woman in an irregular situation, she should be aware of the possibility of requesting the temporary card for exceptional reasons, informing her of this and facilitating the provision of the documentation required for this purpose. The victims must know that they are not alone, that throughout the procedure they will be accompanied by professionals and that they must denounce their abusers not only to flee from that situation of violence, but so that the conduct of that abuser do not go unpunished.
How can citizenship help?
The help of citizens can be vital in these cases. At these times when we are all confined at home, it is recommended that if neighbors hear screams, insults or blows at their neighbor’s house, that they call the state forces immediately, understanding that rapid action can save lives . Gender violence often occurs in intimacy, but it cannot remain on the private scene, in the case of having knowledge of what is happening, it is our obligation to report it. If the situation of abuse is occurring at the same time, the number to dial is 091. In case of calling 016 (victim assistance number) or 112 (citizen assistance number for any type emergency) the person who attends will report to the National Police, delaying the rapid action of the security forces, who will appear at the indicated address as soon as possible. In the event that the law enforcement agencies come to check the notice upon receiving the neighbor’s complaint, and the woman decides not to report, this is not the end of the process, since the police have to investigate the complaints ex officio, and the procedure can be started judicial even if the victim decides not to report.
HOW TO ASK FOR HELP:
1) Through the number of phone 016, anonymous, toll-free number that does not leave a trace on the telephone bill, but which must be erased in the call history. A number of victims is provided through this number. Similarly, the Ministry of Equality has made an email available to victims, thus avoiding calling by phone, email: [email protected] Once the mail has been forwarded, the message must be deleted from the sent mailbox. As much information as possible about the aggressor and the place of residence must be given so that the security forces and bodies can go immediately.
two) Ask for help in the neighborhood, requesting that a neighbor contact the state security forces to report the situation.
3) It is recommended to leave the house share it with the aggressor. At this point, we must remember that you can leave the home without losing rights, there is no crime of “leaving the home”.
4) In the event that it is the victim who has taken to the streets, you should try to take advantage patrol cars who walk our streets during the State of Alarm, and report to the police the situation of violence that is being experienced.
5) A campaign has recently been launched in pharmacies in the Canary Islands, in which a victim of gender violence can alert and request help in pharmacies during quarantine when ordering ‘a 19 mask’. Hopefully, this proposal will be extended to all pharmacies in the country.