KEYS |  Is there an 'end to the state of alarm' effect in the latest sexist murders?  Contagion?  What is failing?

The state of alarm of the covid-19 declined in Spain on Sunday, May 9. Fifteen days have passed since then in which no less than six sexist crimes have occurred (five women and one minor). Such accumulation is surprising after 2020 ended as the year with the fewest murders due to gender violence (45) since there is an official record.

We consulted several experts in gender violence to understand the keys to what happened in a ‘black week’ due to sexist violence and we asked them what is failing in the fight against this social scourge.

The context: when and where have the latest murders occurred?

Six women and a child they have been murdered by their abusers in recent days. The May 9, the day the state of alarm ended, a man with a restraining order he murdered his ex-partner, 60 years old, in Sagunto (Valencia). The May 17, four more. A man killed his 26-year-old wife and her 7-year-old son in Sa Pobla (Mallorca). Another killed his wife in Corbera de Llobregat (Barcelona). Before, an almost identical case had transpired in El Creixell (Tarragona). In 72 hours, May 20Teresa, 48, was shot dead by her partner in Asturias. And this Sunday may 23, Katia, 35, was murdered by her partner in Zaragoza.

Is the peak in murders related to the end of the state of alarm?

The experts consulted believe that blaming the killings on the end of a state of alarm would be a reductionist approach to the reality of gender violence. However, they consider that there are factors of a situation of greater mobility that increase the risk suffered by victims of sexist violence.

The former delegate of the government of gender violence Miguel Lorente explains that the end of the state of alarm produces in abusers “the perception of loss of control over women” and that increases “risk and lethality.”

The terrible thing, Lorente reflects, is that “The pandemic has shown that if women are dominated and controlled, their partners do not kill them. The most effective protection system for women has been a social and economic crisis and not an improvement in their well-being ”.

The current delegate for gender violence of the government, Victoria Rosell, understands that the return to normality promotes an increase in separations and complaints, moments that are objectively dangerous for the victims, has explained in the Ser string.

For her part, Lucía Avilés, a magistrate specializing in gender violence, emphasizes that the confinement and the state of alarm have implied greater economic and social dependence of the victims on their aggressors and points out that “it is probable that now, without a state of alarm, they have been able to recover the social network and have found support to try to find a way out”, which in the cases mentioned above has been criminally frustrated.

Susana Camarero, from the NGO Mujeres en Igualdad, considers that, under the alarm, sexist violence “has been contained within homes. The abusers felt stronger, they could not leave, nor take a step, nor leave them, nor break the cycle of violence, but now as soon as they gain openness and ask for help, they have reacted. The problem is that the system has failed from all points of view, now it’s time to see what and remedy”.

Can we speak of an “accumulation” effect or a “contagion” effect?

In gender violence, from time to time what is popularly called a “black week” occurs, with the accumulationn of macho murders in successive days. It is not something new from 2021. However, experts disagree on whether there is a “contagion effect”, this is that a murder motivates others in later days.

The most recent study To date, commissioned by the Carlos III Health Institute, it has not found solid evidence of a contagion effect. Analyzing all the murders between 2003 and 2017, it concluded that no evidence that “the occurrence of a murder due to gender violence on any given day entails an increase in risk on consecutive days.”

What could be proven is the accumulation effect, explained in the higher frequency of murders “in certain years, months and, very especially, on certain days of the week”. In summer, post-vacation dates and on Mondays there are murders. Four of the last six crimes occurred on Monday.

However, there are experts like Miguel Lorente or Lucía Avilés who believe that the matter deserves a more leisurely examination, because it is observed that “whoever had made the decision to end the life of his partner or ex-partner, somehow finds a reason in others who do it before and consolidate that decision”, according to Avilés.

Lorente does not use the term contagion, he prefers to use imitation. “Humans feel identified with the behaviors of other humans, it is something that happens in general. Gender violence would be the only human behavior in which imitation would not exist. It influences and must be taken as a risk factor“, Explain.

Other voices see it important to highlight “that unfortunately sexist violence is always there and can occur continuously or more drop by drop”. This is the case of Susana Camarero, from Women in Equality, for whom “weeks like this have to set us off alarms”, without forgetting that it is violence “that is constantly taking place. There are many victims suffering and they are all important ”.

What is wrong with the protection of victims of sexist violence?

The Government, through the Ministry of Equality, last week promoted a new plan to study how to improve protocols against sexist violence, after the latest murders. The delegate of the Government Victoria Rosell has influenced this Monday that the time has come to increase vigilance and control over aggressors.

Rosell claims that police assessment of women’s risk battered also include in greater monitoring of the aggressors.

Judge Lucía Avilés shares the idea of increase control over abusers. And it points to an underused tool in the courts such as forensic assessment of the situation of the victim and the aggressor, which is only used in 1-2% of cases of gender-based violence, despite the fact that since 2020 the magistrates can request it ex officio.

Miguel Lorente adds that there are underused protection measures, such as the bracelets of control of the aggressors, of which less than half of those available are placed. “The breath of our presence who has to feel it are they, the aggressors, and not only as a statement, but by changing the protocols and measures ”, demands the former delegate for Gender Violence.

The state pact is in effect only until September, and then what?

Susana Camarero, from Women in Equality, sees it as necessary a first extension of the state pact against gender violence, because what is needed is to “step on the accelerator” in the fulfillment of its measures. “The pact is a complete roadmap and, in addition, it is born of the agreement. You do not have to invent anything new, you have to analyze what has been started and continue to comply the remaining measures ”.

Waiter considers that there are about three-quarters of the pact measures to be executed and asks to focus efforts on the formation of sectors that can help in the prevention. “We know what to do, do it,” he asks.

Judge Lucía Avilés highlights that lhe gender violence is a social bankruptcy that the courts only certify. And it demands more means for all areas from which abuse is fought and prevented: health, education, as well as a greater training in equality between men and women.

Miguel Lorente, for his part, proposes to take advantage of the end of the validity of the state pact against gender violence to address one of greater significance that involves the “end of machismo” in Spain, so that gender violence does not find a way to mask itself.

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