A licence to kill

IT seems one cannot pick up a newspaper in Spain without reading of an unspeakable attack on a woman suffering an abusive relationship. Almeria Mayor Luis Rogelio Rodriguez-Commendador says: “While there is one woman suffering domestic abuse with impunity, we will all be aggressors if we remain silent and accomplices if we tolerate it.”

When will those responsible for our justice system wake up? A relationship; married or otherwise is not a licence to control; abuse or take someone else’s life or liberty. A limp-wrist reaction to abusers is an insult to civilised values. Authority is arguably an accessory if they ‘help or encourage the criminal in some way.’ Crime flourishes when justice turns a blind eye.

There is often lethargy when police and other bodies are confronted by domestic abuse. I was told that in Spain there is still a medieval mindset that marks a wife as a chattel.

My own efforts on the part of a woman in distress were a lesson in institutionalised indifference. I constantly see it being repeated. The attitude; she made her bed, let her lie on it translates into let her weep and bleed on it.

Recently the British Consul in Alicante, Paul Rodwell welcomed the work being carried out by Spanish authorities to tackle domestic violence. At a meeting attended by the mayor of Orihuela, Monica Lorente, he said he was there to show solidarity with the victims of domestic violence and to raise awareness around the issue.’ He went on to say: “A significant percentage of the arrests we are informed about are related to domestic violence.”

Might it not then be a good idea to stop the attacker’s slap or fist whilst it is raised and ready to strike rather than wait for it to descend? Abusive partners should be made aware that their partner, in absolute confidence, can report abuse. That from there on his behaviour will be subject to unobtrusive surveillance and monitoring. Being ‘caught on camera’ is the best policeman.

The victim in addition to covert support must be assured of a safe haven should she or her children feel threatened. If he has nothing to hide he has nothing to fear. If he has something to fear then he should feel it, not his victim.

As communities we too have a pivotal role to play. One of the most effective forms of communal security is old fashioned banishment. It is time we reduced reliance on the police and courts to provide solutions.

If the courts are weak and penalties fall short of what most consider as fitting the crime then it is time for communities to act. They can do this by going back to old values; being nosey; enquiring, showing an interest in our neighbours. What happens in our community is our business.

Abusers who reject commonly held values should be treated with contempt by the community in which they live. Isolated, they should be held as loathsome; become social outcasts. This has far greater effect than a fine or prison sentence.

So far this year 22 partners or former partners have been killed in Spain. As a community we should be working towards a better system of making domestic abuse of women and children so unacceptable that it becomes the exception rather than the general rule.


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