Spain’s gender violence epidemic: What the hell is happening?

Brendan Boyle
6 min readJan 19, 2023
Photo by Svend Nielsen on Unsplash

The Christmas lotto draw sends Spaniards into a frenzy. In Summer many buy tickets, or decimos, on vacation — you’d never know where the luck could land. Some spend hundreds of Euros. The December 22nd draw is surreal: school children with shrill voices sing out numbers and cash amounts like fingernails drawn across a chalkboard.

The festive period gone by, however, will be remembered for a different set of numbers. Numbers without jackpots or winners — just losers. Lost mothers and daughters, lost sisters and friends. Lost futures.

· In December, 11 women were fatal victims of male violence in Spain.

· At least 6 of the victims had previously reported abuse suffered by the perpetrator.

· In 2022, 49 women in Spain were murdered by a partner or ex-partner.

· By the end of the year, a total of 1,182 women had been murdered by a partner or ex-partner since official records of violence against women began in 2003.

December went down as the worst month for domestic violence on record. “Six women murdered in the space of five days, including a heavily pregnant woman, rounded off a dark December in the never-ending nightmare of male violence against women,” wrote El País. “The fact that more than half of the victims had previously reported their killers indicates that the mechanisms of prevention and protection are not working properly.”

The pregnant woman was María Elena. She was killed in front of her two children in a small town northwest of Toledo. Medics were unable to save the baby — it was due to be born in a matter of days.

Root causes

No one factor can explain Spain’s gender violence epidemic. The media has pointed to economic instability, drug and alcohol abuse, and the psychological strain on society caused by Covid-19. But this is something that goes much deeper. To understand why more than 1,000 women have been murdered by their partners or ex-partners over the past 20 years, Spain must confront a sinister undercurrent that has permeated into the attitudes and behaviours of generations of men.

Sociohistorical factors cultivated during an oppressive dictatorship cannot be overlooked. “In…

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Brendan Boyle

Irish - living in Galicia. Write about Spain, its cities and culture; real people and places; current affairs. Supporter of real journalism.