As experts and international organizations had been warning, the coronavirus pandemic would have a serious impact on victims of sexist violence. And this is how the data that we are getting to testify; the latter, those relating to the activity of the courts in the second quarter of the year. In full alarm, all the indicators have fallen: fewer complaints, fewer sentences and fewer protection orders. According to the figures published this Friday by the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), between April and June – on the 21st the state of alarm ended – 33,338 women went to court to file 34,579 complaints, 14.62% less than in the same quarter of the previous year.
It’s the steepest drop since 2007, when the agency began breaking down the numbers. Already in the first quarter of the year, which encompassed 15 days of a state of alarm, there was the largest drop in the entire historical series, but now it has worsened. Since that first year of statistical activity, there has never been such a large decline in year-on-year terms. To reach a lower number of complaints than those registered this quarter, we must go back to the first months of 2016, more than four years ago. So, 33,723 were filed, a slightly lower number. However, since then and with few exceptions, the number of complaints began to increase and in recent years it has practically never dropped below 40,000.
If we compare the figure in quarter-on-quarter terms, that is, in relation to the immediately previous quarter, there is also a drop, but much less pronounced than that between January and March of this year. In other words, those registered in the second are fewer complaints than those filed in the first quarter, but the really sharp fall occurred in the latter, since that is when the health crisis broke out.
The urgent actions in this matter were declared an essential service during the confinement, but the data, explains the president of the Observatory against Domestic and Gender Violence of the CGPJ, Ángeles Carmona, “clearly show the added difficulties that the women to report their assailants. ” The Observatory itself, as well as victims’ support organizations and even the World Health Organization (WHO), warned of this circumstance, but although the services and courts were still active, the figures confirm “the dramatic situation experienced by these women, who are they were forced to live the state of alarm locked up at home with their abuser “. A fact that “was an added obstacle to ask for help and report the facts.” It is within this framework, the president continues, that “we must frame the significant decline.”
Sentences drop 60%, but most are convictions
As a consequence of the decrease in the number of complaints, the protection orders requested by the women themselves also registered a significant decrease. The total number of measures of this type claimed was 10,124, 14.8% less than a year ago. Of these, the courts for violence against women granted seven out of ten, while the duty courts granted almost 80% of the total. The percentages are practically similar to those registered from April to June 2019. In addition, in more than half of the cases, 52.5%, the victim had a relationship with the aggressor at the time of requesting the order, and in the rest he was his ex-partner.
Derived from these orders, the judges issued various measures, both in the civil and criminal spheres: as always happens, the most frequent were restraining orders and the prohibition of communication. Regarding the measures of the first type, two out of ten were related to the provision of food and almost the same number to the allocation of housing. These were the two most frequently adopted. The suspension of the custody of minors was agreed in 5.12% of the cases, while the visitation regime was interrupted in 3.58%.
In the case of the sons and daughters of the victims, the report adds for the first time a piece of information that allows to know “how many are also victims of sexist violence”: 312 boys and girls in the second quarter. However, the law recognizes since 2015 that all minors are direct victims of mistreatment suffered by their mothers and, in this sense, precisely this week the Government Delegation against Gender Violence presented an extensive study to delve into this problem. With interviews with more than 10,000 adolescents between the ages of 14 and 18, up to one in four admit that their mother has been a victim, and of these, 77% have also received these same behaviors directly from the aggressor.
The General Council of the Judiciary also provides data on the sentences resolved in court. Due to the paralysis of part of the activity during the months of the state of alarm, the judgments issued, which were 5,344, fell almost 60% compared to the same quarter of 2019. Even so, the proportion of convictions remained stable and the total resolutions, 77.25% found the aggressor guilty.