If you break a girl’s rib she’ll grow 40 new ones.
“The law protects victims of terrorism but not families like ours.”
Who: Carmen Sanchez and Ana Ortiz Salvador
What: Organise relatives of murdered women.
“We have a law which protects the victims of a terrorist attack,” Carmen explains, “but even more people are affected by murder, and we want families like ours to receive the same support, with psychological and legal help.”
Carmen’s sister Antonia was murdered in the street one day in May 2001, a month after she had left her quiet husband. He shot her in front of their children. They were five and ten years old at the time, and hid behind a car.
Carmen’s sister Antonia was murdered in the street one day in May 2001.
“When someone is murdered, it’s so important to take care of the family,” says Carmen. “They’re the people who will help the children get over their grief so they have a future.”
Ana weeps as she tells her sister’s story. Seven years have passed, but every time she tells or remembers it, she relives the murder. Once again, she and Laura are standing on the pavement, they’re about to get onto the moped and put their helmets on, but suddenly he’s standing there and plunging a knife into Laura’s heart.
“I’ve always felt it was my fault,” says Ana.
She didn’t know that Laura was being abused in her marriage from the very first day.
She didn’t know that Laura was being abused in her marriage from the very first day. It was not until seven months had passed that her sister managed to let them know that she was being kept locked up. She escaped, but her new husband found her when she and Ana visited their father together. After murdering her, her killer threw himself from the sixth floor of the building where his father-in-law lived. He survived, but is paralysed.
Ana became ill and unable to function properly for eight months.
“We’re a big, close family, but after the murder we were divided. We’re no longer a family.”
Laura’s daughter, Coral, was eight years old at the time. She was told there had been a road accident, but as soon as she switched on the TV she understood what had really happened. The following day she went to school as usual. Everyone knew what had happened. No-one said anything.
Both Ana and Carmen have felt increasingly angry that families like theirs are invisible. That they are made invisible. In Spain, when someone dies their relatives become responsible for their debts and financial commitments. There’s a lot to sort out.
We can at least help them with all the paperwork – and make sure the professional help works as it should.
Every time they hear about a murder in their region they try to contact the relatives and offer their support, but they seldom succeed, because of strict confidentiality laws.
”That’s another demand we have – that people have the right to know that we exist, and to be able to contact us,” says Carmen. “We can at least help them with all the paperwork – and make sure the professional help works as it should.”
Footnote: the association is called Asociacion Beatriz de Hnestrosa, after a woman who was murdered by her husband in the 19th century for being unfaithful.
Maternal deaths: 6 deaths per 100,000 births.
Number of children/woman: 1.47
Abortion legislation: Right to abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy
Law against rape within marriage: Yes
Violence against women in close relationships: 400 incidents of violence against women are reported each day. 73 women were killed by their partner/husband during 2010.