Thursday, October 2, 2008


I last wrote about domestic violence on August 25. It will be a subject that I return to many times in the life of this blog.

I make no apology for restating that I believe in zero tolerance for any person who is violent to their partner. Indeed I also believe that it is not sufficient for men to stand up and be counted but we have to act rather than spout pious words.

Back on August 25 I wrote: “Instances of domestic violence have become major news stories in Spain because in recent years the government has introduced tough laws to protect women from abusive partners. This had led to far more women coming forward to denounce their partners and to seek protection but sadly society’s ability to keep them safe has not kept pace.

As a result we now see regular grim reports of the violent slaying of a woman by her husband, boyfriend or ex. I do not believe that men in Spain have become more violent merely that our awareness of these cases is now heightened.”

However there is something rather strange about the Spanish statistics.

I was aware that in the “domestic violence” court established in Algeciras a majority of the cases do not come from Spaniards but Moroccans. There is a large immigrant population in the port town and traditionally the view of Maghreb men to the rights of women are very different to our own.

Before you, perhaps as a European, get too smug over this fact let me give you another uncomfortable truth. In the special courts set up on the Costa del Sol the number of domestic violence cases involving non-Spaniards, including my fellow EU citizens and yes Britons, also out number those for Spaniards.

On Sunday September 28 a 25-year-old Argentinean, Cecilia Natalia Coria Olivares, was brutally stabbed to death as she opened up a bar where she worked on Nerja’s Balcón de Europa. Her slayer was her 29-year-old former boyfriend, a Moroccan, who had a court order baring him from approaching her.

This tragedy rang a bell in my brain because it appeared to me that many of the cases of such violent deaths involve not Spaniards but foreigners living here. I made a mental note to email the Ministry of the Interior to get a break down of the 48 violent deaths so far this year. However I was saved in the task by Maribel García Revilla.

She is the president of the “asociación de mujeres progresistas Victoria Kent”, that on the last Tuesday of every month holds a silent protest against domestic violence in the plaza Alta in Algeciras. This Tuesday, just days after the Nerja killing, she pointed out that around 50 per cent of these violent murders involve foreign women, with their slayers invariably non-Spaniards.

García Revilla recognized that many of these women were here illegally but urged them to come forward to the courts, to associations such as hers for help as the most important thing is their life and not their legal status.

Previously I stated that whilst Spain had introduced progressive laws on domestic violence the protection of women under threat had not kept pace with the current situation. García Revilla also addressed this point relating it to the recent assault of a woman in Los Barrios. She had a court order barring her partner from approaching her, but not a pulse alarm she could use in an emergency. “Pues la orden de alejamiento es papel mojado”, in other words the legal paper was no protection at all.

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