Judges quadruple suspensions of visits to abusers

A woman shows the palm of her hand in a demonstration against sexist violence. / afp

The resignations of the victims to testify against their aggressor, which on many occasions led to acquittal, fell by 33% in the last year

Alfonso Torres

The official figures on the incidence of gender violence in Spain in the first months of this year bring two very positive data. The courts are increasingly applying to the letter the maxim that an abuser cannot be a good father, with which they immediately suspend the visitation regime of the children, and the victims are increasingly firm in their complaints against couples who they like them The first action is a vaccine to try to reduce vicarious violence as much as possible and the second can ensure that many thousands of aggressors do not walk away from the cells or go to court for lack of evidence.

The courts agreed in the first three months of 2022 almost four times more suspensions of the visitation regime of the children of abusive parents than a year earlier. The measure was taken in 833 cases compared to 225 times registered between January and March 2021, which represents an increase of 270%.

The jump is due to the widespread application of the legal reform that came into force a year ago, which indicated that if there are known signs of gender-based violence or also suffered by minors, the aggressor's contact with the children must be immediately cut off. , suspending the visitation regime, if any, during the course of the investigation and withdrawing parental authority in the event of conviction. In fact, the official statistics also highlight that the judges, in these same protection orders, have provisionally suspended the custody of the suspect over his children on another 516 occasions. “It is one more proof that our judges do their duty and are very sensitive and aware of gender violence,” said Ángeles Carmona, the president of the Observatory against Gender Violence, origin of the data, who recalled also that the heads of the courts already authorize seven out of ten protection orders that are requested by the police and the victims.

Complaints grow 20% after the pandemic and the Judiciary attributes this to the greater trust of victims in institutions

The second advance is also the result of another legal reform that came into force a year ago. The legal dispensation that allows a woman not to testify against her husband or common-law partner is no longer complete. If the victim agrees to testify a first time, before the police or before the judge, after having been perfectly informed of her rights, she will no longer be able to invoke the dispensation a posteriori. She can no longer back down.

The change wants to prevent the pressure of the aggressor, the family or the environment from ending up suppressing their testimony, which on many occasions is what can lead to the conviction of the abuser or, failing that, acquittal. If in 2021 and in the years prior to this reform, women who availed themselves of the waiver of not testifying against their aggressor accounted for around 14% of the complaints, in the first three months of 2022 only 9.4% used that privilege, an approximate decrease of 33%. One in four victims who had previously resigned continued.

Possibly this strengthening of prosecution evidence in criminal proceedings has helped to achieve another very positive piece of information from the report of the General Council of the Judiciary, that convictions in cases of gender-based violence already reach 75.7% of the total. total failures.

The x-ray of gender-based violence in the first quarter of the year shows data that, at least initially, may seem very negative, such as the increase in complaints of abuse and victims compared to a year ago, which is around twenty%. However, Ángeles Carmona considers that she responds to two explanations and that neither of them is negative. The first, that the complaints are growing thanks to the increase in normality and the loss of control of the abusers over their partners due to the end of the hardest part of the pandemic, which was still present in January and March a year ago. The second, that "the victims trust more and more in the institutions that we dedicate ourselves to fighting against sexist violence, they trust in the judges, in the State security forces and in the protection network that we all try to weave together." around him and that, in the vast majority of cases, saves lives”, he argues.

Appeal to relatives

The only negative element of the report, with 41,765 complaints in the quarter and 40,481 victims, is, the president of the Observatory also underlines, that this greater effort to denounce is made by the abused themselves, 71%, they do it more and more from the medical and social services (4.85%), twice as many as a year ago, but, on the other hand, there are fewer and fewer relatives and relatives of the victim who come to their aid. If a year ago a tiny proportion of the complaints came through this path, 2.23%, today its contribution is almost half, 1.58%. For this reason, Carmona calls for the involvement of the victims' environment, "in whose hands it is to be able to help them take the step of filing a complaint or to file it themselves, if necessary."

This increase in complaints means that the number of Spanish women who suffered gender-based violence in the first quarter of the year for every 10,000 women rose to 16.7, which is 2.5 more than a year ago. Above the national average were the Balearic Islands (22.8), Murcia (22.6), the Valencian Community (22.2), Andalusia (20.2), the Canary Islands (19.5) and Madrid (18.3). . And below, Cantabria (15.1), Castile-La Mancha (14.2), Navarra (13.7), Asturias (13.4), Extremadura (13.1), Aragon (12.9), Country Basque (12.8), Catalonia (12.7), La Rioja (12.5), Galicia (11.6) and Castilla y León (10.6).

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