Spanish Study Reveals Influence Of Heatwaves On Domestic Violence

Possible Link Between Heat And Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence. Credit: Lolostock/Shutterstock.com

Is there a connection between heat waves and the troubling pattern of gender violence in Spain?

July is, on average, the hottest month in Spain, and this year it has coincided with a horrific spike in domestic murders, with at least eight women killed by their partners or ex-partners. In response, the Government convened a crisis cabinet to analyse the situation and called for a ‘special alert’ to be activated during the summer months when there is typically a peak in domestic murders, according to 20 Minutos.

Evidence Of Link Between Heat And Violence

The only Spanish scientific research exploring the link between heat waves and the risk of gender violence was published in 2018 by researchers at the Carlos III Institute of Public Health in Madrid. Julio Díaz, one of the authors, explained that the study was commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior to determine if a relationship between heat waves and gender violence existed.

‘What the study shows is that there is a statistical association between a heat wave and gender violence, but it is important to say that causality cannot be inferred, that it cannot be concluded that femicides are due to heat. There is a statistical association and this should serve precisely to activate alerts in vulnerable periods,’ Díaz stated.

According to Díaz’s team, cross-referencing periods of heat waves with statistics on complaints and murders revealed that ‘with a heat wave the same day the calls to the helpline (016) increased, the next day the number of complaints at the police station increased and three days later, the number of femicides increased.’

Díaz, an expert in studying climate change’s effects on health, also cited a 2019 study that demonstrated that for every extra degree of temperature, crime rose by 5 per cent in Los Angeles, California. Similar results were also found in Mexico and South Africa, or even a recent publication linking heat with increased violence in animals, specifically dogs.

Statistics Help Authorities To Develop Strategies To Combat Domestic Violence

The accumulation of sexist murders, as witnessed in July, has increased efforts in identifying patterns and factors to combat this issue.

As for the influence of heat, some consider it a cause, but others like Miguel Lorente, a former government delegate for gender violence, see it differently. ‘Heat, like unemployment or alcohol, is a social stressor. It is necessary to differentiate between a cause and a cause. It influences the occurrence of violence, yes, but like other social stressors. There are violent people who are influenced by things that make them more quick-tempered,’ he commented.

The findings point to heat as a stress factor in gender violence, rather than a direct cause. Recognising this connection could help authorities develop targeted strategies during vulnerable periods, lending a hand to potential victims before it’s too late

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.

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