Spain bans visitation rights for gender violence defendants

Spain bans visitation rights for gender violence defendants
Photo: Georges Gobiy/AFP
Parents being prosecuted for gender violence will no longer enjoy visitation rights with children that are not in their custody under a Spanish legal reform that came into force on Friday.

The change affects any parent that is being prosecuted for an assault on the life, physical integrity, freedom, moral or sexual integrity of their partner or their children.

“No regime of visits or overnight stays will be set up, and if one already exists, it will be suspended in the case of a parent who is facing criminal proceedings,” says article 94 of the civil code.

It also applies to cases where a judge has accepted that there are “well-founded indications of domestic or gender-based violence”, it says.

But a judge could still authorise visits or contact “based on the best interests of the minor… following an assessment of the parent-child relationship,” it says.

The change does not affect those who have already been convicted of such offences, whose visitation rights are laid down in their sentence.

The reform was published in the official state bulletin at the start of June just days before police found the body of a six-year-old girl believed murdered by her father, who had snatched her and her baby sister in April.

Investigators believe the father — who had a history of domestic violence — also killed the toddler then committed suicide in a case that shocked Spain.

The six-year-old’s body was found on the seabed, wrapped in a bag weighted down with an anchor, but so far, police have not found any trace of the father and the missing toddler.

Since 2013, 41 minors have been killed by their fathers, or by a partner or ex-partner of their mothers, government statistics show, in a gender violence phenomenon known in Spain as “violence by proxy”.

READ ALSO: How the death of six-year-old Olivia is exposing Spain’s cruellest gender violence

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