Spain bans visitation rights for gender violence defendants

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.

Spain bans visitation rights for gender violence defendants
Photo: Georges Gobiy/AFP

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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Thousands across Spain protest against violence against women

Waving purple flags, several thousand protesters marched through Madrid and Barcelona on Thursday demanding an end to violence against women in a country where fighting domestic violence is a national priority.

Thousands across Spain protest against violence against women
People march during a demonstration marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, 2021 in Madrid. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

The rally took place to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, with demonstrations also taking place in Valencia, Seville and other cities around Spain. 

In the Spanish capital, marchers wearing purple masks, hats and scarves walked behind a huge banner reading “Enough of male violence against women. Solutions now!”

“Not all of us are here, the murdered are missing,” they chanted as they marched past the Cibeles fountain and other historic buildings that had been illuminated in purple. 

“On a global level, it remains a scourge and a huge problem,” Leslie Hoguin, a 30-year-old student and actor told AFP. 

“It’s high time that patriarchal violence against our bodies, our lives and our decisions came to an end.”

Many were fed up of the ongoing abuse faced by women. 

People march during a demonstration marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25th , 2021 in Barcelona. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

“We are sick of the ongoing violence against us which takes many different forms,” said Maria Moran, a 50-year-old civil servant. 

“We want to see prostitution abolished and an end to the murders, the abuse and the rapes.”  

Spanish politicians have repeatedly sought to address domestic violence issues since 1997 when 60-year-old Ana Orantes was attacked, thrown over a balcony and then burned to death by her ex-husband after denouncing him on TV for repeated beatings.

Back in 2004, Spain’s parliament overwhelmingly approved Europe’s first law cracking down on gender-based violence.

“Eradicating sexist violence is a national priority,” tweeted Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

“We will only be a just society when we are done with all kinds of violence against women,” added Sanchez, a self-described feminist whose cabinet is dominated by women.

So far this year, 37 women in Spain have been killed by their partners or ex-partners, and 1,118 since 2003 when the government started keeping a tally.

Nearly one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by someone they know, according to UN Women, the United Nations’ organisation for gender equality.

“Violence against women is a global crisis. In all of our own neighbourhoods there are women and girls living in danger,” executive director Sima Bahous said in a video message.

Pope Francis also weighed in. 

“Women victims of violence must be protected by society,” he tweeted. 

“The various forms of mistreatment that many women suffer are cowardly and represent degradation for men and for all of humanity. We cannot look away.”