Five women were killed in Spain in the week from 17 May by their partners or ex-partners. In Asturias, Maria Teresa Aladro was found dead in her home with two shotgun wounds in her back. Her husband, whom she was in the process of divorcing, was arrested on suspicion of murder. A 42-year-old woman in Barcelona was stabbed to death by her husband, who then killed himself. In Mallorca a pregnant Moroccan woman and her young son were killed by her partner, who called police to confess.
Their deaths bring to 14 the number of women killed in Spain so far this year by their partner or former partner, and to 1,092 the total number killed since the government started keeping a tally in 2003.
Campaigners attribute the increase in killings to the easing of coronavirus restrictions since the end of a state of emergency on 9 May. Women are at greater risk of physical violence from an abusive partner when they attempt to leave, and this is probably happening more often now that curbs on movement have been lifted, they say.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence in Britain has also warned that though in lockdown incidents of domestic violence have become more complex and serious, with higher levels of physical violence and coercive control, lockdown lifting presents new dangers.
“A perceived loss of control can be a trigger for abusive behaviour. During lockdowns, perpetrators may experience an increased sense of control. This could be threatened as lockdowns ease, and perpetrators may intensify coercive control or engage in new, more harmful behaviour to re-exert control.”
During the first national lockdown, calls to the domestic abuse charity Refuge’s helpline increased by 65%, and the number of visits to their helpline website increased by 700% in the same period.
Solace, a charity supporting women experiencing domestic and sexual violence, recorded a 62% increase in women calling their advice hubs in May 2020, at the height of the first national lockdown. This was followed by another spike in September, as schools returned, which Solace attributes to women having greater freedom to move and more time to access support. The government acted slowly and inadequately to domestic violence spike at the beginning of the pandemic. Facing new risks we must campaign for full funding for sexual and domestic violence services, under local authority control, including specialised BME, LGBT+ and disabled women’s services.