Spain broadens counting of victims in gender violence crimes

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MADRID (AP) — Spain’s left-wing government said Friday it will begin to count in its official statistics on gender violence the slayings of women or minors by men regardless of the relationship that existed between victim and killer.

For years, many killings of women in Spain have been loosely described as “crimes of passion” or “love crimes,” but the adoption of gender-violence laws in the early 2000s helped educate the public, media professionals and officials.

Spain since 2003 has officially counted some killings of women as “crimes of gender violence” — but, until now, only when there was proof that the victim and the killer had been or were in a relationship.

Friday’s move to a broader definition of such crimes puts Spain at the forefront of an approach that views men’s traditionally more powerful standing in society as playing a role in most, if not all, killings of women, no matter whether a romantic relationship existed before or at the time of the killing.

Victoria Rosell, the government official on gender violence, announced the change during a press conference in Madrid.

Rosell said that, starting from Jan. 1, 2022, underage victims — irrespective of their gender — will be also counted in the official gender-violence data. That move follows a series of high-profile cases where children were harmed or killed by men in order to hurt the children’s mothers.

Men convicted of gender violence can face aggravated penalties in final sentencing.

Spain’s thriving feminist movement had pushed to broaden the country’s definition of femicide, which Spanish officials have defined as the killing of a woman or a girl on account of their gender.

Equality Minister Irene Montero said the change was necessary “because what is not counted doesn’t exist, because of justice and reparation, and to advance rights.”

“All together against violence against women,” she wrote in a tweet.

Her ministry’s statistics show that 37 women have been murdered so far this year in Spain by their partners or ex-partners. At least 1,118 have been killed since 2003, when systematic record-keeping began in the country.

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