Friday, September 30

Sexist murders in the pandemic: fewer cases, fewer prior complaints and less protection

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic left unprecedented figures on sexist violence in our country. The General Council of the Judiciary explained this Tuesday that throughout 2020 there were a total of 46 sexist murders, in addition to the murder of 3 minors at the hands of their parents. Figures that reflect how confinement affected violence against women: there were far fewer fatalities but they had also filed fewer prior complaints and the judges had therefore imposed fewer protective measures.

The pandemic dropped complaints of sexist violence by 10% in 2020

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These 46 female victims of sexist violence represent the lowest number since 2003 when the authorities began to register femicides in our country. A year earlier, in 2019, the same statistics collected a total of 56 murders confirming the upward trend since 2016. This year 2021 could become the course with the fewest sexist murders of the entire historical series: the woman murdered in Cantabria on the 17th December along with her young daughter at the hands of her ex-partner is the 42nd victim so far this year.

The Council also explains that the strict confinement in force between March and April influenced the sexist murders. There were 4 sexist murders between March 15 and June 21, while the other 42 are spread throughout the rest of the year. As the CGPJ explains in a statement: “This data could be connected both to the situation of greater control of the aggressor with respect to his victim caused by confinement and to the difficulty of access of the aggressor to the victim in the case of non-cohabiting couples” . Once the state of alarm was lifted, there was a significant spike with 12 murders in less than 50 days.

The data relating to last year and released this Tuesday by the CGPJ reflect the profile of the murderers: men with an average age of 48.4 years and 70% of them Spanish. It also reflects that the number of them who had been denounced prior to the murder decreased by 4.4% compared to the previous year, with 8 of the 46 fatalities. A figure that is also one of the lowest in the historical series: only in 2005 do the statistics reflect a lower percentage.

There were fewer previous complaints but the victims insisted before the authorities before being killed. Among the 8 victims who reported before dying at the hands of their partner or ex-partner, they had filed 11 complaints against their murderers, most of them before the different police officers. The vast majority of these complaints were due to beatings, attempted suffocation, hair pulling or shoving and 11% due to death threats, insults, contempt, humiliation and threats to take away their children. In two cases that ended in murder, the evaluation did not appreciate any risk and in another it was classified as “low” risk. This also resulted in a decrease in the protection measures imposed by the courts.

Several of the sexist murderers of 2020, in fact, had already gone through the court and had even been convicted. Six of them had to testify in court with only one of them admitting the facts. Five of the victims, for their part, decided not to testify against their abusers and took advantage of the dispensation of the Criminal Procedure Law that annually affects more than 10% of the complaints filed. Five of these complaints were filed by the judges, another four ended in trial, two of the assailants were convicted and one acquitted.

The General Council of the Judiciary also collects in its statistics the number of minors killed in these cases of sexist violence. Two boys and a girl were murdered throughout 2020 by their father: two of them in April in Úbeda (Jaén) and another in January in Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona). The data reflects that throughout 2020 a total of 68 people were orphaned by the murder of their mothers, 29 of them minors. In more than half of the cases, the murderer was the biological father of the minors. The CGPJ experts consider being a mother a risk factor since, the statement says, “it increases the vulnerability of the victim.” Most of the murders also took place at the shared home.

The report also includes a comparison of cases of sexist violence and domestic violence in the sphere of the couple between the years 2009 and 2020. These are data that reflect that since then there have been 665 women murdered by men and 80 men murdered by women, in addition of 11 men killed by other men and 2 women killed by another woman. In general terms, according to the Council, 89.2% of the aggressors were a man and 10.8% a woman.