Say what you think and stop gender violence

A new government measure is being presented as part of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, with nearly a hundred steps to continue building a feminist present. Using the slogan ‘Say what you think’, the new campaign ‘The present is feminist’ calls for people to break the silence which perpetuates male violence towards women.

18/11/2019 18:27 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

The new government measure ‘Towards a Barcelona free of gender violence 2019-2023’ outlines an extensive programme with four main goals and nearly a hundred specific actions. The new plan provides continuity for a model approach to tackling sexist violence in the city, with brave and innovative measures such as internalising support services, bolstering teams of professionals, a twofold increase in shelter places for women and children and the application of the ‘We won’t keep quiet’ protocol in nightlife venues. In addition, the budget set aside to combat gender violence has been increased by 163% in the last four years, reaching a figure of 12.3 million euros.

Four main challenges to do away with gender violence

The roadmap document has four main goals, setting out the most important strategy areas:

  • Drive new alliances to raise awareness and get citizens more involved.
  • Create synergies with the cultural, education and health sectors, as well as others, to tackle gender violence at its roots and transform ideas about sex and gender, moving towards open, respectful and diverse models.
  • Improve coordination and support services in relation to gender violence.
  • Define a comprehensive model for addressing sexual violence jointly between municipal services, entities and public administrations which respond to the multiple forms of sexist violence and give an empowering and non-victimising response.

Nearly a hundred specific actions

Based on these goals, the measure sets out nearly a hundred actions in different spheres such as public transport, education, commerce and municipal services: These include:

  • Protocol to tackle gender violence on public transport: 42% of women who use public transport a lot have suffered groping. The goal of the new protocol is to establish a circuit for prevention, detection, intervention and notification of sexual aggression and harassment jointly with Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB).
  • Extension to the pilot scheme of on-demand bus stops on night buses, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Transport Agency (AMB).
  • New specific phone support service, operating 24 hours a day and offering primary care in cases of sexual violence.
  • Collaboration with commerce to promote the fight against gender violence and promote equality, in line with the commerce initiatives in the shopping areas in Creu Coberta and El Born in recent years.
  • Further roll-out of the ‘We won’t keep quiet’ protocol, which 36 nightlife venues around the city have already adopted.
  • Broader coverage from anti-sexism stands, with mobile points which can be set up at different spots around the city.
  • More action to promote sexual and affective education in schools, among families and the elderly.
  • Specific action in the labour sphere, particularly the most vulnerable sectors such as cleaning, domestic and care work.
  • Improved coordination of the Barcelona circuit against gender violence, made up of all specific municipal services: the Women’s Support and Information Points (PIAD), the Care, recovery and Shelter Service (SARA), gender violence shelter places, the Men’s Care Service (SAH) the Municipal Unit against Human Trafficking (UTEH) and others.
  • New pilot programme about gender violence through mobiles and social media, particularly aimed at young people.

The present is feminist

As ever, the City Council is joining in with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with a media campaign taking a stance against all forms of sexist violence. In the last few years, the message for the 25N campaign has evolved. In the first campaign the central message sought to highlight make violence towards women and reject it strongly. The campaigns ‘Reject’ (2015), ‘Not half’ (2016) and ‘Don’t turn your back’ (2017) sought commitment from city stakeholders pointing out that gender violence is not a city problem, but an issue that affects everybody.

The campaign took another step forward in 2018 with ‘The future is not sexist’, offering a vision of the future and reaching out to young people through a message which encouraged people not to keep quiet about violence, showing that relationships should always be free and respectful as there’s no place for violence in the future.

This year’s campaign centres on the Barcelona of the present, because well before the future, the present is already feminist. The goal is to remind people that we live in a combatant city, which fights together, which reinvents itself, which rejects all forms of sexism and which tackles it. Using the slogan ‘The present is feminist’, the campaign is designed to reach out to men and prompt reflection on their active role and the need to construct new masculinities, as well as having the courage to break down male complicity which often perpetuates the structure of violence. Because of this, the campaign invites men to break the silence and say what they think about gender violence and, most of all, do so in the present and get involved from now on.

Gender violence, a blight of epic proportions

People are more aware than ever about gender violence, and feminist movements and municipal policies in the city are fighting to put an end to sexism and drive the message home to people. Even so, figures show that sexist violence is still a serious problem which needs to be eradicated.

In Barcelona, 57.7% of women state they have suffered sexist violence at some point in their lives, according to the gender violence survey conducted in 2016. In addition, one in three women have suffered very serious violence, such as threats of reprisals, children taken away without permission, offers of improved circumstances in return for sexual favours, being victims of groping with the threat of violence, rape, attempted rape and/or physical violence. Some 20% of women in Barcelona have suffered some sort of serious sexual violence at some point in their lives.

In 2016 alone, 13.8% of Barcelona women suffered sexist aggressions. In 2.3% of cases that aggression was very serious, with sexual violence accounting for 1.1% of cases.

Two of the most important services in the city providing care and support for victims of sexual aggression also recorded their highest figures in recent years in 2018. The Hospital Clínic, a leading centre for this type of support, handled 448 cases, while the Care, Recovery and Shelter Service (SARA) provided subsequent psychological and social assistance in 298 cases.

Greater visibility but not reported much

The figures highlight how the issue is increasingly visible, but that more results are needed in the fight to combat a problem which has historically been silenced and understated.

Surveys and studies corroborate how the level of reported sexual violence is very low. Figures for 2016 show there were 1,342 crimes against sexual freedom and indemnity in Catalonia (according to the Ministry of the Interior), but the survey on gender violence in 2016 detected that 0.5% of women had suffered rape in the country that year. That percentage corresponded to 16,000 women, differing hugely to the 1,342 crimes registered by the Ministry.

The low percentage of denouncements highlights the need to make society more aware, to strengthen prevention and provide comprehensive support for women who have suffered.

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