1. There has been much concern and anger in Spain since Thursday night following the news of the discovery of the body of one of the two missing sisters in Tenerife. There have also been lots of political reactions. Let's go over things a little bit.
2. We'll get to the graphs and context. First, the news events and reactions. The main event, on Thursday evening, was the discovery of 6-year old Olivia's body in a bag tied to the anchor of the father's boat, 1,000 meters below the surface of the sea.
3. Canary Islands media today report that the search vessel, the Ángeles Alvariño, has returned to port after 13 days at sea. Despite some rumors, no official notification has been made regarding the bodies of either the younger sister or the father.
4. Among the most read stories on the islands, of course there are articles that try to explain the details of the crime and also about the protests: “The Canary Islands takes to the streets for Anna and Olivia: 'We are a society sick with machismo'”.
5. Just a few hours before the discovery of the body of her eldest daughter, the mother, Beatriz, had posted an audio message full of hope on Instagram: "Everything makes more sense if he has run off, like I always thought".
6. Politicians at the national level felt the need to react immediately. The Prime Minsiter, Pedro Sánchez, wrote: “I cannot imagine the pain the mother of little Anna and Olivia who disappeared in Tenerife, must be feeling at the terrible news we have just received”.
7. The Equality Minister, Irene Montero (Podemos), wrote: “This violence that is exercised against women who are mothers to strike where it hurts them most is a matter for the state”. In a hashtag, she mentioned the concept of “vicarious violence”.
8. The Equality Minister also related it to Covid and the state of alarm: “When the lockdown is lifted, abusers perceive a loss of control and that triggers other forms of violence that go up to murder”.
9. Taking advantage of the discovery of Olivia's body just a few hours later, minister Montero was at a rally scratching for votes and media attention because “patriarchal justice” penalises women. She is proposing “feminist justice”. Via @europapress
10. In El País, government representative for gender-based violence, a judge, Vicky Rosell, also mixes it all together: “Covid-19 is a pandemic over another pandemic, gender-based violence. When restrictions are lifted, the one that was underneath erupts”.
11. Rosell's department offers a figure, “that would be 41 children killed by Gender-based Violence since 2013 and 4 this year”. “It is not the face of evil,” says the representative, “it is the face of machismo”. The department is also talking about “vicarious violence”.
12. Rosell explains in El País what she means by “vicarious violence”. It uses children “as mere instruments to hit mothers where it hurts the most”, she explain, and “it has always existed”. So “vicarious violence” is a new label for the age-old concepto of “revenge”.
3. Here's the document with the figure of 39 children “killed in cases of gender-based violence against their mother in Spain, 2013 to 2021". Plus Olivia and Anna would give us the 41 announced by the Government Office against Gender-based Violence.
14. And in this other document we have the official figure of 1,096 women killed “by gender-based violence” in Spain since 2003. Between 45 and 76 a year, depending on the year. Last year, with Covid, saw the lowest figure in the whole record.
15. So on the basis of this terrible but still partial story—we are still far from knowing all the details—the Spanish government immediately proposes a political discourse, a rhetorical demand, for “feminist justice” against “vicarious sexist violence by men”.
17. But, unfortunately, the news of the discovery of little Olivia's body has not been the only relevant headline over the past few days. And what do the figures say about the situation with murders in Spain if we broaden our outlook a bit, both conceptually and in time?
18. In Valencia, both parents have been found guilty of the murder of Amiel (3) and Ixchel (6 months). The Prosecutor's Office is seeking 50 years in jail for the father and 25 years of involuntary commitment for the mother due to paranoid schizophrenia.
19. At the end of May in Asturias, a woman was sentenced to life in prison for murdering her baby as soon as it was born on August 1, 2019. Other stories about the crime describe how she stabbed the baby 53 times before throwing it into a bin.
20. And from Catalonia, news comes this week of the murder of another small girl, Yaiza (4). Her mother has confessed to the investigating judge that she suffocated her daughter with a plastic bag, motivated by revenge against her ex-husband.
21. In Seville, the former boyfriend of Rocío Caíz (17) has confessed to the murder: “He killed her the same day she disappeared, dismembered her and spread her remains around different parts of the town of Estepa, where the young woman was last seen”.
22. Here is the investigating judge's ruling from Canary Islands. She thinks Gimeno killed the two girls between 7:50 and 9:05 p.m. on 27 April, the day they went missing. At 9:51, they were on the boat. At 10:30, he threw them to the bottom of the sea.
26. And Vox says they want life imprisonment. More life imprisonment than revisable life sentences? Are they suggesting non-revisable life sentences? Lock 'em up and throw away the key? Vox also criticises Equality Minister: “the immorality of this feminism has no limits”.
27. Let's look at the data. As we saw in 2018, Spain has one of the lowest murder rates of women on the planet. 0.5 per 100,000 women, according to UN data. As far as I know, no other study has been done since with so many details.
29. There is another UN study from 2019. Globally, in all regions, far fewer women are murdered than men. The absolute number fell between 2012 and 2017 (87,000) but the percentage of women killed by their partner or family members increased.
30. Globally, boys aged 0-14 represent less than 2% of males killed and girls less than 1% of women killed. Later on, there is a big discrepancy between the ages of 15 and 29, an eight-fold increase for lads compared to the girls.
32. As an annex to that report, the UN published a separate chapter on the murder of children and young people around the world (pdf). It reports a total of 205,153 children aged 0-14 were killed globally between 2008-2017. 60% boys and 40% girls.
33. Here is the Spanish Home Office report published in 2018 for the period 2010-2012. Among many other things: women who killed were more closely related to their victims than men, and women killed newborns and children more.
34. But how can we fit the feminist narratives, the government's own narratives in this case, with criticism from other parties and politicians, with data on gender-based violence and murder data in Spain more globally?
35. Here is the chart that tops this thread. All murder deaths in Spain, 1980-2019 (INE, National Statistics Office). Men in blue, women in pink, women classified by the Ministry of Equality as victims of gender violence in bright pink.
36. As you can see, and as the UN could report, not only is Spain among the countries of the world with the lowest murder rates, but the trend for 15 years in absolute terms is decreasing. But among men or women, or both?
37. If we do the same graph but only with the female victims, we see that the trend is approximately flat, around 100 women a year in Spain have been killed since the end of the 1980s. Those classified by the Ministry's as gender violence are in bright pink.
38. And children in Spain? In bright red, children between 0-19 years of age killed (INE). In light red, murdered children related to gender-based violence by the Ministry of Equality. Except for exceptional years, 15-25 kids every year for the the last 20 years.
39. What implications does it have for government and opposition policy to see the data on gender-based killings within the whole data set of murders in Spain, within the very low rates we have here compared to the rest of the world?
40. What should the technical, legal, social, psychological and logistical debate to try to reduce the figures, which seem structural, look like? Should it be more like the campaigns to reduce traffic deaths or be about huge media cases that help build political narratives?
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written by Matthew Bennett, a British journalist who has been living and working in Spain for most of the past 20 years.