06/08/2021

With gender-based violence you can't wait; when in doubt, you have to act

2 min
The spot where there was the charred body of Antonella, in Sant Vicenç de Castellet.

The data are very worrying, and so is the lack of response. In these first seven months of the year, from January to July, eight women have been murdered by their partners in Catalonia, as many as in the whole of last year. Of these, six have occurred since the last state of alarm ended in May. Although each case is different, and the causes may vary, police experts analyse it as the result of the aggressors' fear of losing control over their victims, who during the time in which there were restrictions on mobility had been often forced to stay at home with no chance of escape or seeking refuge in other spaces. The result is that in the last 11 weeks six women have been murdered by their partners in Catalonia. The sixth still does not appear in the statistics because the identification of Antonella, the woman murdered in Sant Vicenç de Castellet, has not been completed, since her body was so badly burnt it will require a DNA test. Possibly a seventh case will have to be added when the investigation of the Mossos into another murder in Sabadell concludes. The victim's state was also in such a bad state that it could not be identified.

The case of Antonella, however, is exemplary of the situation of helplessness in which many of these women live and the lack of social sensitivity, which also often existes in the administration, to their complaints. A feminist organisation in Terrassa, where the woman lived, has reported that since April they had accompanied the woman to the police four times to report her partner, who committed suicide after killing her. The officers, according to the organisation, did not want to file the complaint because they allegedly saw no reason, although now they have not wanted to comment on the reasons for this alleged refusal of help. What there is is a complaint of verbal violence, which was to be heard in a trial in October and which was not enough for the prosecutor's office or the judge to believe a restraining order was necessary. Perhaps there were doubts about the complaint, perhaps in other cases there are exaggerations, but the result is that Antonella is dead, burnt, and her two-year-old daughter is an orphan after living through the trauma that has shocked the country.

It is important that what happened in Terrassa is thoroughly investigated to find out where the protection system failed. To purge responsibilities, but, above all, to understand what needs to be improved, where the mistake was and how to prevent a case like Antonella's from happening again. Eight murders, or nine if we include the case in Sabadell, in under eight months. It is serious, very serious. Gender-based crimes can often be carried out because society minimises machismo and normalises violent attitudes and degrading treatment of women as if they were "tradition" or minor sins. We need zero tolerance of these attitudes and strong demands of the administration to protect and stop once and for all minimizing the reports of male violence. There may be false reports, but they are minimal and it is better to prevent than to regret, as is happening now. When in doubt, we must act.