Spain’s ruling left-globalist coalition—composed of the establishment Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), the senior partner, and the hard left-populist Podemos—have clashed, pointing the finger at one another after the month of December saw a record number of women murdered.
The month of December saw a total of eleven women murdered as a result of sexist violence, the highest figure registered since 2003, when the government began officially recording these kinds of crimes, prompting attempts by the two coalition partners to cast blame on the other for the unsettling uptick which has taken place under their rule, the Madrid-based newspaper El Mundo reports.
In the wake of the murders, some of which were exceptionally gruesome—like the murder of a nine-month pregnant woman Escalona who was stabbed to death by her former partner in front of her two children, aged 13 and 14—the Secretary of State for Equality and Gender Violence, Ángela Rodríguez Pam, a Podemos politician, said they were due to a “failure of all institutions.”
The Podemos politician also cast some of the blame on the Ministry of the Interior, headed by Fernando Grande-Marlaska (PSOE), which is responsible for the Comprehensive Monitoring System in Cases of Gender Violence (VioGén), which monitors women at risk of violence. She suggested that the system be reviewed over what she views as its clear failures.
Responding to the secretary’s criticism, the interior minister in a press conference expressed his “deep frustration” over the “unusual and terrible proliferation” of sexist crimes against women, and announced that security forces have been given the order to do more to protect the 31,161 women who are listed in VioGén, especially the 723 who have been deemed to be at high risk.
“We have a system with different institutions that we are continuously cooperating with, evaluating the actions to determine whether the necessary or accurate protocols have been followed to take the necessary and accurate measures,” Grande-Marlaska said, assuring that “the 40,000 officials of the various institutions that are part of Viogén are committed to improving the system.”
“Every system can be improved,” the minister added.
Defense Minister Margarita Robles reacted to his colleague’s criticism slightly differently, however, calling attention to the ‘Only Yes is Yes’ law which has not only resulted in the reductions in sentences of convicted sex offenders, but has also seen some released. Originally, the landmark law was intended to toughen penalties for sex crimes and take the burden off victims to prove violence or intimidation had been committed. Victims merely needed to say that they did not consent. Unfortunately, however, it has been used by some lawyers to reduce sex offenders’ existing sentences.
“I do not agree with what Podemos says and I have to tell you [with] the greatest respect that perhaps the law of yes is yes has not given an adequate response to the situation we are experiencing,” Minister Robles began.
The minister then added: “It is a law that has a very good philosophy, which is to protect women, but when we end the year with this situation that there are more people released from prison than we would like and when we also see that violence is skyrocketing, I think it is not good to blame anyone and we should all make ourselves self-critical. Something is failing and we all have to assume our share of the blame.”