Spain in revolt as rapes and sexual assaults sweep across the country

THE plight of women in Spain has been given considerable attention in the last few years, given alarming governmental statistics that show the hundreds of women who have been subject to the most heinous crimes.   

Since the Spanish government began recording the number of women murdered by their former or current partner since 2003, 1,017 women have been killed, where gender-based violence has risen to dramatic and historical proportions. A range of measures have been rolled out in a bid to halt the violence sweeping across the country, with Spain’s government headed by acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez promising to crackdown on the all-encompassing crimes of rapes, sexual assaults and domestic abuse.

Just in the last week, a countless number of assaults have been committed on women, which has caused both national and international outrage, largely because of the belief that a respectable European nation is subject to crime more commonly seen in poverty stricken regions in the world. 

This included the gang rape of two tourists in the relatively peaceful region of Murcia, where two American sisters were allegedly subjected to a horrific ordeal by three Afghan men on New Year’s Eve. Just one day later a young woman was found unconscious, battered and bruised just yards away from her doorstep in Almería, where it is reported that she was brutally beaten and raped and is now fighting for her life in a coma in hospital.

A group of migrants were also arrested by the National Police in Teruel yesterday (Sunday, January 5), where they are accused of sexually assaulting a young woman who had been celebrating the start of the long weekend. 

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Three men have been arrested for an alleged sexual assault of a woman in Teruel. Spain. Credit: Antonio García.

Spain’s wave of gender violence has shocked local communities across Spain, where many are at loss as to why the escalating brutality on women continues to rise. Some attribute the acts to a predominately male-driven society where some even lay the blame on the recent influx of immigrants in the country, whose culture puts women far down the pecking order to men.

Speaking to Ana Robles, a local Costa del Sol resident, she stated her disdain for the growing violence. She said: “I was born in Spain and since I can remember there has always been cases of gender violence in the news. For me, it is just unbelievable, we live in one of the best countries in the world with a thriving economy where women are treated as equal. I just don’t understand it.”

Another Spanish resident who wishes to remain anonymous from Mallorca said: “I suffered from domestic abuse at the hands of my ex-husband since we were married. Although I wanted to leave him, I didnt believe that I would be be given any support” She added: “I had no where to go, no independence and little money and I am sure this is the same case for many women across the country. I can’t image how many unknown cases of women being sexually assaulted are unknown, as I just don’t believe they report it.”

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Mass demonstrations have taken place across Spain to condemn gender violence. Credit: EFE.

Although a host of groups are bringing the issue to the spotlight through mass demonstrations and initiatives to support victims of gender violence, much more is needed to be done to halt the simple fact that a proportion of men in Spain believe that women are inferior. 

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Written by

Isha Sesay