Homelessness
Society 05/03/2021

Three quarters of homeless women suffer violence on the street

35% of the group has vocational and university training and 10% work part-time

2 min
Women living on the street are more vulnerable than men

MartorellIn terms of numbers, there are far fewer of them, but women who survive on the street suffer more violence than men in the same situation. Specifically, three quarters of these women say they have been victims of aggression, compared to half of men, according to a survey among people who sought help from Barcelona's Assís center during 2020.

The data confirm that women have it worst on the streets, as they are exposed to attacks and aggressions. This situation has been aggravated during lockdowns and curfews because pedestrians disappear from public spaces. For women, the street is the last resort because they often have a network of family or friends who take them in when they lose their house and this makes them an invisible group, since sharing a room or sleeping on someone else's sofa is considered a form of homelessness. However, the policies to assist this group are basically centred on a model of help for men, who represents 80% of people living on the street. "If living on the street is a real threat to the lives of homeless people, in the case of women, this threat is even greater," says the Assís centre, which offers 25 places in shared flats for women.

The survey reaffirms that these women drag a long history of previous violence and, in fact, in many cases lose their homes in their flight from aggression by partners or parents. Thus, throughout life, eight out of ten have experienced psychological, physical or sexual attacks, two thirds are survivors of sexist violence and a third say they have been sexually assaulted as adults.

"These results indicate a greater degree of vulnerability not only before they lose their home, but also once they are on the street," according to those responsible for the centre, who recall that "in any hate crime, misogyny sneaks in with extreme ease, so we can observe different ways of exercising and expressing gender-based violence".

During the pandemic, the number of women of Spanish origin has increased by 7% and represents half of the group. In addition, there are 10% who have a part-time job but the vast majority - six out of ten - are unemployed after having lost a job related to care, a very precarious sector that as it is often part of the informal economy, meaning workers do not have a right to benefits. On average, they earn 250 euros a month, which is 22% less than men. These amounts are insufficient to have access to decent housing. Up to a third (35%) of these women have professional training or even university studies, and of these, 89% are migrant women. These, if their administrative situation is not regularised, are more vulnerable because they are not entitled to receive benefits such as the guaranteed income and the minimum vital income, or aid to access social housing.

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