I always talk and write about how much I love Spain. This country has radically changed my life for the better and I look forward to having the chance to ask for my nationality one day. Every time I express the admiration, fascination and adoration that I feel for this country, someone tells me: "You will see when you discover the real Spain". Something that I never believed and that took me as a way out of tone of the typical anonymous Twitterist pissed off. But I think I started to understand what they were referring to.
As some of you already know, I met with Mr. Pedro Sánchez to talk about a new law to eradicate the violence suffered by children. He offered me all his support and continues to do so. But what has happened since then has been downright devastating.
I have witnessed the goings-on, the hypocrisy and the falsehood of many politicians, journalists, television networks and other organizations that have a public purpose that they are not fulfilling. And they should face the face of shame, because they are playing with the lives of the little ones.
In the first nine months of this year, 18 children have died as a result of the systemic lack of protection minors have in this country. And surely there are more deaths of which there is no record.
Three minors have taken their lives. They were 12, 15 and 16 years old. Others were killed by their father (the youngest was only three years old). A newborn baby was killed by his mother: he threw it out the window. The list of names, ages, causes of death and culprits makes me cry. Last year alone, the police received more than 38,000 complaints of violent acts committed against children.
I have thought a lot about what I am about to say, but I am afraid that the conclusion is clear: if the new law is not presented in Congress at the end of the year and it is approved in 2019, all the political parties in this country, one way or another, they will be accomplices in the death of more children in the coming months and years. Moreover, not only will they be accomplices to these useless and absurd murders, but also the thousands of abuses, rapes and acts of violence committed against children that are a cancer that destroys our society every day.
We lack time to accuse the Pope of turning a blind eye to the systematic abuses of children by the Catholic Church. And we do not see that the political game and the different parties are doing exactly the same thing.
The press is just as guilty: it is busy gleaning happily in the ministers' past and refusing to get involved in the political needs and measures that should (and can) be implemented right now.
Chains also have their share of guilt: Shootball, a devastating, powerful and courageous documentary directed by Fèlix Colomer on the Marists (the most infamous case of institutionalized abuse that is remembered in Spain) has met with no resounding to its broadcast on Televisión Española, Telecinco, Antena 3, Cuatro , La Sexta and Movistar Plus. Why? Because they are terrified of antagonizing the Church. The same Church that continues to allow children everywhere to be raped with impunity. Instead of helping to break the silence surrounding child abuse, these channels are accomplices in keeping it secret, hidden, stained by shame.
It should also be noted that of the 13 Marist pedophiles, 12 are at liberty and without a trial because the cases have prescribed (something that the new law will change) and Joaquín Benítez, who has confessed, will go to trial for four crimes in instead of 17 for the same reason. And what is already incredible is that, having confessed his guilt, Mr. Benítez is not in preventive custody and is on the loose.
I am going to be very frank about the situation in which the new law that I spoke with Mr. Sánchez a few weeks ago is: The Government has at this moment in its hands a comprehensive law proposal that has been prepared by a team of lawyers and experts It is a very complete, feasible and rigorous proposal that would make Spain the number one in the world – of the world! – for its measures of prevention and protection of children against any type of violence.
From the first moment, Mr. Sánchez supported this law. The Minister of Health has also shown her unconditional support, as well as the Minister of Justice and the Minister of the Interior (who played an important role in the drafting of the law in his time as judge).
In fact, all the political parties present in the Parliament publicly supported this law and signed a common proposal a year ago asking the Government to get down to work and present it in Parliament so that it could be approved before the end of the legislature. But, in spite of everything, still nothing is done.
We are talking about a law that needs a humanitarian response that will take it to Congress immediately and approve it as soon as possible. But political parties prefer to use it as a throwing weapon in a shameful way.
The opposition parties are so thirsty for votes and recognition that they do not intend to allow the government to win a victory that can win votes in the next elections. Although Rivera and Casado engage in private to support the law and although all parties know that it is urgent to have a law that protects our children, they prefer to let these die before allowing the new government to present this law as an achievement of their own.
The leaders of the four main parties are parents. Casado promised to give his support to the law in private, in an office full of drawings made by his young children. And his wife is a teacher of early childhood education. Mr. Married, I assure you that, at least, one of your wife's students suffers abuse. It is likely that many more.
With their tricks, manipulations and deceptions, the opposition parties make everything be delayed. They ask that commissions and consultations be held and that groups of experts be formed to study any changes that may occur in the current system. They demand a total consensus, 100% of the Chamber, and crumble every little detail about violence against children to bring it to debate. They allege that they do it "to be meticulous", but what they really want is to prevent Mr. Sánchez from being able to score a bit with this law. As if this were a game that must be won at all costs even if others die along the way.
And they do so in spite of being aware that in the proposal of law in the hands of the Government have intervened NGOs, police bodies, judges, academics and many other qualified experts, including the team of the previous Government. Knowing, in addition, that the proposal is in consultation phase and practically finished. They know. And they do not care.
That politicians have a bad reputation is an open secret. Someone who tries so hard to come to power is usually more susceptible to corruption and ego.
I promise that if they had forced, penetrated orally or anally, strangled, beaten and used as if it were little more than a sex toy to one of the sons of Sánchez, Casado, Iglesias or Rivera (that was my life from six to ten years), I would not have to write this article today.
If the children could vote I would not have to write this article today. If the politicians were as brave as the survivors who dare to break the silence and put humankind before their little games of power, I would not have to write this article today. I find it incredible to have to keep claiming this, fuck. It's incredible that I have to spend countless nights awake thinking about this, crying with rage.
It's incredible that my mother is undergoing eight-session chemotherapy treatment and a stem cell transplant that will give her a 60% chance of being alive in four weeks and that I have to look for hours to write this article to foot of his hospital bed.
And in spite of everything, my love for Spain has not cooled down. In any case, what I have seen in recent weeks has had the opposite effect. I am more determined than ever to protect my home and the children who live here.
I ask you to lend me your support. I ask the press to give this issue an absolute priority.
I ask the leaders and the members of the Spanish political parties to stop playing games and to realize that this has nothing to do with politics, but with humanity. It is about protecting the most vulnerable. To resist the desire to win votes with their speeches while children are still dying because of their (lack of) attitude. To act as parents and not as politicians.
I beg you. The future of the new law is in your hands. If it does not reach Congress before the end of the year, it will be too late. Any significant delay will make it impossible for it to move forward in this term, and it could be years before it has another favorable situation. They have the unique and extraordinary opportunity to do the right thing, which is something that nobody expects from politicians. Surprise us. Do it.
In the world there are two types of people: those who contaminate it and those who clean up the disaster that the others have left. In Spain, childhood is contaminated. It's in a fucking toxic dump. Roll up and get down to work. Do it now, without waiting for reward or recognition, and put effort. If I can help you in any way, count on me. I am sure that many more are also willing to lend a hand. We are available to you at any time of day, seven days a week. Ask us what you want.
I ask you to join your efforts, to present the draft in Congress soon and to approve it as if it were your life in it. Because the truth is that life goes on it. The one of our children. And when they have done it, continue with their strategies and their games, it would not be more; Discuss the theses and masters and the recordings of a thousand years ago and do what you really want. Because at least then thousands of children and I can finally fall asleep knowing that Spain is a safer place.
James Rhodes is a pianist, author of the book Instrumental. Memories of music, medicine and madness (Blackie Books)
Translation by Laura Ibáñez.