Number of underage girls suffering sexual violence at the hands of their partners increases
Covid isolates victims, whose friends and family remain unaware of the violence
BarcelonaThis year, a total of 527 underage girls have reported a partner or ex-partner to the police. This is more than last year, but fewer than in 2019, before the pandemic. They had suffered from psychological, physical, cyber or sexual violence, despite the fact that the police warns that since January, the number of underage girls who have reported their partners or ex-partners for sexual violence has increased to 31. There are again more cases than in 2020 –an increase of 50% in non-violent assaults and 150% in violent assaults–but fewer than two years ago. "It has surprised us," admits the head of the Catalan police's attention to victims squad, Sergeant Andrea Garcia, who says that sexual violence "has soared" among underage victims.
Despite the upturn, Sgt Garcia explains that most of the violence inflicted on both adult women and underage girls by their current or former partner is psychological (52%), followed by physical (over 40%), cyber (4%) and sexual (3.5%). Another change since covid is that friends and family of women murdered this year in Catalonia were unaware of the violent situation. Sgt Garcia believes this is due to the "social isolation" the pandemic has caused. Of the seven women murdered since January by their partner or ex-partner, in only two cases were those close to them aware of the situation. This is much lower than in 2020 and 2019, when the situation was known in about half of cases.
38 complaints every day
Sgt Garcia calls on the population to act as "a loudspeaker" of the attacks on women. This year, reports of violence suffered by women at the hands of their partner or ex-partner have gone up almost 8% in Catalonia. This also marks a 3% increase on 2019 data. The data shows 67% of the perpetrators were born in Spain, while 33% were born in another country. There have been 11,407 complaints up to October, an average of almost 38 cases a day. According to the caporala, the upward trend recovers the evolution of before covid, and insists that the pandemic "invisibilized" the situation.
The Mossos see positively the "confidence" of the women in the police, but they defend that also "there must be efforts of other professionals and services", because the denunciations alone "will not finish" with the violence of the men. The caporala explains that the police have given 135 women protection –38% more than a year ago and 35% more than in 2019– after their risk was assessed as very high, high or medium. Garcia says that, apart from there being more complaints than in the previous two years, "more risk" has been seen by women, who have accepted to a greater extent the offer to receive protection. Sgt Garcia points out that the Mossos give protection to victims regardless of what the courts decide, although most often their actions are later backed up by a restraining order from the courts.