Mass protests in Spain after 19 women murdered by partners

‘Feminist emergency’ demonstrations follow series of high-profile rape cases

Protesters in Madrid on International Women’s Day. Organisers are aiming to ‘turn the night purple’, the colour of the feminist movement. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters

Protesters in Madrid on International Women’s Day. Organisers are aiming to ‘turn the night purple’, the colour of the feminist movement. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters

 

Protesters will take to the streets of more than 250 towns and cities across Spain on Friday to declare a “feminist emergency” after a series of high-profile rape cases and a summer in which 19 women were murdered by current or former partners.

Organisers are aiming to “turn the night purple” – the colour of the feminist movement – to raise the alarm and protest against apathy, indifference and a lack of attention from politicians and the media.

So far this year, 42 women have been murdered in domestic violence attacks and 32 children left motherless. Since the government began recording such murders in 2003, 1,017 women have been killed by their current or former partners.

Demonstrations

The demonstrations come three years after the notorious gang-rape of a woman at the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona and amid the trial of seven men accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in Catalonia.

“This has been a summer dominated by barbarity, murders, rapes, assault, paedophilia and gang attacks,” said the protests’ organisers, Feminist Emergency.

“The gender-based violence of the summer has led to the worst figures in more than a decade. We can’t let another school or parliamentary term begin as if nothing has happened. To do so would be to tolerate the intolerable. This is an emergency.”

The organisers are urging people to assemble with candles, lanterns, torches and mobile phones to let “feminism fill the night”.

The Pamplona attack – known as the “wolf pack” case after the name the rapists gave themselves – shocked Spain and provoked a fierce debate over the country’s sexual offences legislation.

There were furious protests around the country after the judges presiding over the original trial cleared the five of gang-rape and convicted them only of the lesser charge of sexual abuse.

In June, Spain’s supreme court overturned the regional court’s verdict, ruled that the men had committed rape, and raised their sentences from nine to 15 years each.

Parallels have been drawn between that case and the trial of the six men who are alleged to have raped the 14-year-old girl in the Catalan town of Manresa.

Upgraded charges

While prosecutors had initially argued the defendants should face charges of sexual assault rather than rape because the girl was drunk, under the influence of drugs and did not fight back, they upgraded the charges to rape on Monday.

Despite the outcry and anger provoked by such cases, Spain’s far-right Vox party has called for the repeal of domestic violence laws and attacked “psychopathic feminazis”.

On Thursday, the party boycotted the minute’s silence that Madrid city council had called to mark the murder of the latest victim of domestic violence, Adaliz Villagra.

Villagra (31) was stabbed to death in front of her two children in the capital on Tuesday.

Vox’s decision to boycott the event and instead turn up with a sign reading: “Violence has no gender” prompted a public row between Madrid’s conservative mayor, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, and Javier Ortega Smith, Vox’s general secretary. – Guardian