Fatal gender violence worsens in Europe As pandemic eases

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As life gradually returns to normal in Europe, there has been a resurgence of deadly violence against women as abusers experience a “loss of the control” they enjoyed throughout the coronavirus lockdowns.

And their faces are making the headlines. Like Chahinez, a French woman who was burnt alive by her estranged husband, or the five women killed in three weeks in spring in Sweden, whose images haunt TV bulletins there.

In the few European countries where official statistics for 2021 are available, the figures are indisputable: in Spain, for example, since the state of emergency ended in May, one woman has been killed every three days, compared with an average of one a week before.

In Belgium, 13 women have died from violence since the end of April compared with 24 in the whole of 2020, while in France, 56 have been killed so far this year compared with 46 for the same period a year earlier, NGO figures show.

“With women gaining more freedom, the aggressors feel as if they’re losing control and react with more extreme violence,” explained Victoria Rosell, head of the Spanish government’s taskforce against gender violence.

“In the case of the increasing numbers we’ve seen in recent months, we’ve seen how easing the restrictions has exposed another underlying pandemic, that of male violence.”

In 2004, Spain approved Europe’s first law that specifically cracked down on domestic violence, making the victim’s gender an aggravating factor in cases of assault.

And with the recent rise in deadly violence, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has reiterated his desire to put an end to this “misogynist scourge” once and for all.

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