Spain is not a totally homogenous country. Many well-educated women in the cities live in relative equality. In other parts of the country it is more common for women to follow traditional gender roles. During the 20th century Spain experienced periods of dramatic political change. When the dictator Francisco Franco came to power in 1935, women were deprived of the right to vote, own land, own property, open a bank account, and more. When he died in 1975 there was a pent-up need for justice and equality, and in a short time the country went to the other extreme, and now probably has the strongest legislation in the world against violence against women.
Population: 46 million (2010)
Religions: Christianity (Roman Catholic) 94%; other 6%
Life expectancy: Men 78 years, women 84 years (2011)
Literacy rate: Almost 100%
Income inequality: Gini coefficient 0.32 (2005) *
Ranking on the Transparency International list of Corruption Perceptions in 183 countries: 31 (2011) **
Ranking in the UNDP Human Development Index of 146 countries, taking gender equality into account: 13 (2011) ***
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.
* Gini coefficient:
An economic metric of inequality in a population, for example in income distribution. The Gini coefficient has a value of between 0 and 1, where 0 implies that the assets of all individuals are exactly the same (total equality) while 1 represents total inequality. The lower the Gini coefficient for income inequality, the greater the equality of distribution of salaries, profits, welfare benefits and other forms of compensation.
In 2011, Transparency International ranked 183 countries according to how widespread corruption was in the country. Position 1 on the list showed the country where corruption was least widespread, position 183 the greatest. Corruption within, for example, the police and justice systems has a marked influence on women’s lives.
Every year, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, measures human development in the world’s countries taking into account health, education and income, in the Human Development Index, HDI. In 2010 a new index was introduced: GII, Gender Inequality Index, which also takes gender equality into account. The countries are ranked from position 1 downwards.
Swedish Institute of International Affairs
Center for Reproductive Rights
CIA World Factbook
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Is there legislation in place which explicitly states that acts of violence committed against women by someone close to them which take place in private are against the law, and which imposes appropriate punishment on the perpetrator?
An law against violence against women in the home was passed in 2004. Death threats were also made a criminal act. The law describes in detail how authorities and the health care system are to work with victims of crime.
The law is gender-neutral and can therefore not be applied to women who beat men or to violence in same sex relationships.
Is there a functioning, non-corrupt police force and judiciary which can pass sentence and enforce punishment within a reasonable period of time?
There are around one hundred specialised women’s courts which deal with crimes against women. They work quickly, aiming to handle an application for a protection order within three days. The law also allows the prosecutor to “lump together” several crimes of violence in one prosecution, and the judge does not need exact dates and times to be able to convict the perpatrator. A man who commits the “lesser” form of physical or psychological abuse risks fines or imprisonment for a maximum of two years.
In some places, the courts are being stretched to the limits, and critical voices have been raised concerning legal security.
Are there accessible and reliable statistics for the incidence of violence against women?
All Spanish courts report fatal violence to a government institute, which keeps detailed and accessible research material about violence against women.
The unrecorded figures are high, particularly for immigrant women who do not know their rights and do not report the crimes to the police. The majority of Spanish women who are killed have not previously reported violence, which also suggests that the figures are under-reported.
Is it possible for women to support themselves and their children, for example after divorce?
It is common and generally acceptable for a woman to work, and the law supports her right to economic help if she leaves a violent husband.
Are there shelters for women who want to leave a violent relationship?
The woman has a legal right to sheltered accommodation.
The poorest women in the state-run women’s shelters often go back to their husbands without having been shown how to build a new life.
Has the government explicitly expressed the will to fight the violence by means of public debate and various forms of preventive work, for example in the schools, the legal system and the healthcare system?
The Government runs regular campaigns against violence in the home. The new law also contains wording stating that the media have a responsibility to report on the consequences of the violence, for example how many Spanish women have been killed by their husband or ex-husband.
There is a lack of support for relatives of women who have been killed by a husband or ex-husband and who need psychological or legal help.
Are there any programmes to prevent the abuser from relapsing into violence?
We have not been able to find any any good examples of such programmes.
Does society take the view that women are subordinate to men?
It is no longer unusual to find women in senior positions in society.
Male politicians have also taken up questions of equality and violence against women, sending an important signal to the population.
Spain is still a country where machismo, the attitude that the man is the undisputed head of the family, prevails. The majority of abused women – around eight out of ten – choose not to give evidence against the man in court because they themselves assume the guilt and see their primary obligation as being to protect the family.
Which direction is the fight to end the violence against women going in?
Spain probably has the strictest legislation against violence against women of any country in the world. The level of aspiration is still high and the laws are still being updated. For example, a change was recently made so that women who are illegal immigrants will dare to report a violent husband to the police. The woman no longer risks being deported while the crime is being investigated, and if her husband is convicted she will be allowed to remain in Spain.