An abuser in Madrid has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for assaulting his partner after spying on his mobile phone and WhatsApp messages. But the sentence has two parts. The judges confirm, on the one hand, two and a half years in prison for a crime of revealing secrets and nine more months in prison for the punch that he gave the victim when she demanded the return of the terminal. The defendant will have to go to prison to serve a sentence if it is declared firm in these terms and the judges explain in the ruling itself that if he had refused to testify, he would probably have been acquitted.
According to the ruling of the Provincial Court of Madrid to which elDiario.es has had access, everything happened in June 2018. The accused took advantage of the fact that his partner had fallen asleep with his mobile in bed to pick up the terminal and read the messages who had crossed paths with an ex-partner. A few hours later, she woke up to the defendant punching her in the eye when he demanded that the phone be returned.
It is one of the many cases of gender violence committed in privacy that could have ended in acquittal, like so many, if the matter ended in the word of one against the other. The victim, according to the resolution, availed himself of the dispensation of article 416 of the Criminal Procedure Law that allows him not to testify against a relative. But the judges had more material: the statement of the son of both, who saw the attack, that of the policeman who treated the woman and that of the accused himself, who acknowledged having spied on his partner's phone.
The result is a conviction not yet final that adds up to 3 years, 3 months and 2 days in prison in addition to a restraining order. Most of this sentence, 2 and a half years, punishes the crime of revealing secrets with mixed aggravation of kinship for spying on his cell phone, and the other 9 months in prison for the punch, which did not leave injuries. In case of being declared firm, the conviction for the crime of revealing secrets will imply the entry into prison of the convicted person.
The Madrid Court has rejected his appeal, with the support of the Prosecutor's Office, and has confirmed the sentence imposed on him by the capital's criminal court 36. Regarding the aggression, the magistrates of section 26 explain that the statement of the minor, exposed in the trial as pre-constituted evidence, and that of the policeman are valid to demonstrate the punch even if the victim has accepted the dispensation. In the case of the revelation of secrets, the judges rely on the only evidence: your confession.
Throughout the process, the defendant has acknowledged that he picked up his partner's phone to see the messages he crossed with another man with whom he had had a relationship in the past. The mobile was unlocked and he, as he explained, "was able to see some messages of a conversation between her and a man with whom, according to the defendant, she had had 'affairs' in the past." For the court, this meant that the man "seized his partner's mobile phone, naturally without their consent, and violated their privacy, with no justification for doing so."
After that confession, adds the Provincial Court, there is no possibility of understanding that he did not commit a crime of revealing secrets. The sentence says that "she was aware that she did not have the consent of her partner to view the content of her conversations, since she was asleep, admitting that she did not give her permission due to that circumstance, and yet with full awareness and willingness to violate her privacy, she agreed to a conversation of that one with a person with whom she had been romantically involved, not returning her cell phone until the next day, because, according to what she declared, she wanted to show it to her brother-in-law ".
The judges go so far as to openly reproach his lawyer's defense strategy and drop that if he had not acknowledged having read his partner's mobile, he could have avoided jail. His silence, without direct witnesses to the revelation of secrets given that his partner was asleep, could have resulted in impunity. The Hearing says that "the accused may not have had an adequate defense, since far from advising him to make use of his right to remain silent, which would have prevented him from making use of his statements in the investigation phase, he allowed himself to incriminate himself of a crime, the penalty of which, given its length, will lead to his imprisonment ".
Sexist violence exercised through technology controlIn this case of women's mobile phones, it is a phenomenon present in prevention campaigns, even by the Government, but as of today it does not have reliable statistics that allow quantifying how many people spy on their partner's mobile phone, either for control your conversations or even through applications. Already in 2017, for example, the Ministry of Health launched a bell in which he warned that "spying on your partner's mobile is sexist violence."
The data do not allow us to know how many of these situations occur in the sphere of couples and ex-partners, nor do they specify how many of these cases are of male violence against women. The annual compendiums of the Prosecutor's Office, for example, collect 101 cases in 2019 in which the Public Ministry participated in a trial for the crime 197.1 of disclosure of secrets, without explaining whether the kinship circumstance was applied or not. The statistics of the Ministry of Justice collected by the General Council of the Judiciary do not reflect convictions for this type of crime.
The Prosecutor's Office warned in its latest report, relative to the 2020 data, that the pandemic and the restrictions had resulted in a decrease in physical violence but in an increase in "psychological and digitally committed violence that, in this period, has suffered a notable increase as in other types of crime ". Spying on a couple's phone falls under this concept of "digitally committed" violence.
The same memory spoke of a paradigm shift in sexist violence with the irruption of new technologies in very early ages. This, says the Prosecutor's Office, "confronts us with multiple and varied situations of domination, control, and psychological and physical abuse of men over women." New technologies have opened new horizons in the fight against sexist violence that have even led to various legal changes in the last decade.
The CIS has collected on several occasions the opinion of young people and their perception of sexist violence. In the first months of 2015, for example, the report 'The perception of gender violence in adolescence and youth'prepared by the Secretary of State for Social Services and Equality, revealed that for 33% of the boys and girls surveyed, acts of control are "unavoidable" or "sometimes acceptable."
The latest study carried out by the Reina Sofía Center on Adolescence and Youth of the Foundation for Aid Against Drug Addiction (FAD) reveals that the most suffered form of intimate partner violence among women is to check the mobile phone (21.8% of those surveyed) over sexual assault or control of activity or insults. The study, carried out among people aged 15 to 29, even reveals that the only common situation they recognize "is to check the partner's mobile phone, which is mentioned by 23.6% of women and 10% of men. ".
The proportion of women who declare having witnessed situations of gender violence in their environment through checking their mobile is also higher: almost 60% of the women surveyed and less than 40% of the men surveyed. The indicators related to mobile phone spying have doubled, according to the survey released by the Foundation at the end of last September.