Friday, 14th August 2020

This Month's Magazine
Better late than never

Better late than never

Spain is finally waking up to its domestic crime problem, wife beating,

According to figures issued by the Spanish national newspaper, Cinco Dias, at least one woman dies every week in Spain at the hands of her partner while thousands more stay in abusive relationships because, they say, there is nowhere else to go.

Sadly, these figures are not uncommon in Europe, but, there is a growing awareness here of the problem. Democracy in Spain is only 25-years old. Before that, during the 40 year long dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, domestic violence was not considered a crime, however it was considered taboo, there is even a common Spanish phrase, which is generally levelled at women by the older generation "I broke it because it was mine".

Luckily, this attitude towards women is now changing fast, especially among the young. Cases of domestic abuse feature on the evening news almost daily and Spain's TV chat shows, which are on morning, noon and night, regularly discuss the issue.


In 2004 Roman Catholic bishops caused an outcry with a report suggesting that sexual liberation since the 1960s had led to more men beating their wives. Although the majority of Spaniards still describe themselves as Catholic, Church attendance levels are dwindling.

So Mr Zapatero was certainly tapping into public sentiment back in 2004 when, just a few hours after being sworn in as Spain's new premier, he visited a woman in hospital who had been beaten and burned by her husband, as well as victims of the March 11th train attacks, who were on the same ward.

The Spanish Minister for Work and Social Affairs, Jesus Caldera, says Spain needs a general "change in behaviour towards women", which should be impressed upon school children through the study of "ethics and equality". A country with such a long history of disregard for women’s rights is not going to change overnight, however, with the recent increase in awareness of the problem and ministers looking into ways to improve women’s rights, at least Spain is finally moving in the right direction; better late than never!

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