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The Desire to Live: Spanish Women Take a Stand Against Gendered Violences

Roughly 2.5 million women in Spain have personally experienced male chauvinistic violence. The Spanish Feminist Movement has therefore organised a nationwide march to take place on November 7 in Madrid.

We want to live!cartel-7n

It’s a desire so basic that it almost seems redundant to articulate it, but unfortunately this simple exclamation reflects a dire reality in current-day Spain. In the past year alone, 70 women have been killed as a result of male chauvinistic violence, a number that is too high by any standards and sadly reflects a growing trend in gendered violence in the last 20 years in Spain (“Cuando Las Mujeres Tomamos Las Calles El Patriarcado Tiembla ¡Súmate a La Marcha!”). It is this jarring reality, this disregard for fundamental human rights, that the feminist movement of Spain is bringing to public and government attention with the State March Against Male Chauvinistic Violences on November 7, 2015.

The 2015 Census of Violence Against Women, conducted by the Delegation of the Spanish Government for Gendered Violence, found that 12.5% of women older than 16 years old had already suffered violence, either of a physical or sexual nature, at the hands of their romantic partner or former romantic partner. That is roughly 2.5 million women in Spain who have personally experienced male chauvinistic violence, a term that has been preferred by the Spanish feminist movement as it reflects the severity of intimate partner violence that is often otherwise normalized.  Lamentably, this figure has grown in the last 10 years. In the 2011 Census, 10.8% of women had reported being victims of partner violence while 6.3% had reported the same in the 2006 Census (“Un 12,5% De Las Mujeres Ha Sufrido Maltratado Durante Su Vida En España.”). It is important to remember, however, that these figures only represent those who were willing to disclose in the census. It should also be noted that 2015 was the first year that the census included the experiences of 16 and 17 year olds.

As a form of protest against this growing hostility towards women, the Feminist Movement in Spain has organised a nationwide march to take place on November 7, 2015 in the country’s capital, Madrid. This event will feature representatives from each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities and will be the first protest against chauvinistic violence to be organised at the national level. While physical violence against women is the principle focus, the March’s official manifesto also cites systematic violence—including objectification of women’s bodies, repeal of abortion rights for minors, and general lack of respect for women’s decision-making abilities—as unacceptable violations of women’s basic human rights that need to be addressed (“Cuando Las Mujeres Tomamos Las Calles El Patriarcado Tiembla ¡Súmate a La Marcha!”).  It is for this reason that the event is called the “March Against Chauvinistic Violences” because, in reality, the forms of violence are plural and various.  

The purpose of this demonstration is not only to raise public awareness and display solidarity for victims, but also to demand that the Spanish government take a stand on the issue. The event’s manifesto also demands the following:

  • “The fight against male chauvinist terrorism be a matter of the State
  • The development and implementation of the Istanbul Convention; the compliance with the recommendations of the CEDAW and Law 1/2004 be reformed so that all forms of violence against women are reflected in it
  • All of society, its organisations and institutions, engage in this fight
  • The fight and resources not only include the violence exercised by partners or former partners, but also sexual assault, sexual harassment in the workplace, trafficking for sexual / labor exploitation of women and girls, and all kinds of male chauvinist violence
  • All levels of Government be truly committed to the prevention and eradication of male violence, as well as to the assistance and redress for all women exposed to violence, regardless of the administrative situation in which women are
  • The emphasis is placed on the protection of the affected women, enabling different outlets that involve a living, economic and social recovery for them and their children
  • Prevention be a political priority, including a coeducational system at all levels and specific training in the fight against male chauvinistic violence for all professional staff involved in the process, the media, cultural circles and civil society
  • The commitment of the media to adequately cover different types of male violence, calling attention to them, avoiding morbid sensationalism in their treatment and using gender-neutral language and images
  • The removal of joint custody and enforced visitation to children of convicted abusers; the withdrawal and impediment of transfer of custody to abusers” (“Cuando Las Mujeres Tomamos Las Calles El Patriarcado Tiembla ¡Súmate a La Marcha!”)

The March is open to the entire public—Spanish, non-Spanish, women, men. All are welcome and encouraged to participate in this revindication of human rights. The March will begin at noon on November 7, originating at the Health Ministry in the Paseo del Prado and ending in Plaza de España. For more information, the March’s official website here.

References:

“Cuando Las Mujeres Tomamos Las Calles El Patriarcado Tiembla ¡Súmate a La Marcha!” Marcha Estatal Contra Las Violencias Machistas. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

“Un 12,5% De Las Mujeres Ha Sufrido Maltratado Durante Su Vida En España.” EL PAÍS. 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 19. Oct. 2015. 

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