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WOMEN

Women take to the streets in Spain demanding funds to fight domestic violence

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Madrid and Barcelona on Wednesday to demand the Spanish government fulfil its promise to finance an ambitious plan to fight domestic violence.

Women take to the streets in Spain demanding funds to fight domestic violence
Protesters demand the Spanish government increase the economic resources to fight the violence against women, at a demo in Madrid. Photo: AFP

“There is no lack of money, there is a lack of will,” the protesters chanted in Madrid as they made their way from the equality ministry to parliament.

About 500 people, mainly women, also took to the streets of Barcelona, Spain's second largest city.

Protesters cover themselves with plastic film as they lie on the street during a demonstration.in Madrid. Photo; AFP

The protesters demanded the government's budget for 2018 include an annual increase of €200 million ($238 million) in spending on efforts to end domestic violence that was pledged in a state pact against gender violence agreed to in December.

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While the protests were backed by Spain's main unions, they were far smaller than recent demonstrations against the controversial acquittal of five men accused of gang-raping an 18-year-old woman at Pamplona's bull running festival. 

The men were sentenced instead to the lesser charge of sexual abuse.   

Health Minister Dolors Montserrat in December called the pact against gender violence a “historic agreement” which includes more than 200 measures “to end this scourge”.

At the time she promised one billion euros in extra funding over the next five years to the cause.

A protester holds a poster with a photograph of Spanish Minister of Health, Social Services and Equality Dolors Montserrat during a demonstration in Madrid.

“This government is unpresentable, it has the habit of promising and then not fulfilling,” said Maria Sanchez, a 68-year-old pensioner in Madrid.    

She told AFP that she came to the march on behalf of her two daughters and two granddaughters.

Jimena Manteca, a 22-year political science student, said women had “woken up and we are not going to be silent”. 

A total of 583 women were killed in Spain by their partner or former partner between 2008 and 2017. 

Domestic violence is a high profile issue in Spain and each death gets intense media attention, with parties across the political spectrum having vowed to stamp out the problem.

 

 

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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