Interview: La Rioja (Spain) at the forefront to end gender violence

Interview: La Rioja (Spain) at the forefront to end gender violence

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the President of La Rioja Concha Andreu, Vice-President of the Socialist Group of the European Committee of the Regions, underlines the need to prevent, reject and condemn all acts of violence against women and girls at local and regional level. La Rioja has launched many initiatives to eradicate gender-based violence in its communities.

Recently, La Rioja's law against Gender-Based Violence was adopted unanimously. What specifically will change for women?

The Law against Gender-Based Violence drawn up by the Government of La Rioja gives tangible expression to the regional government's commitment to combating this serious social problem and is one of the commitments in the government's programme and agreement for this tenth legislative term. In addition, this law gives full effect to all the measures in the State Pact on Gender-Based Violence that fall within the autonomous community's responsibility, to which the Government of La Rioja is fully committed.

The main new aspect of this legislation is that it expands the concept of gender-based violence in line with the most advanced terms in the Istanbul Convention and recognises the killing or murder of children by their father as gender-based violence for the first time. In addition, all manifestations and forms of gender-based violence, explicitly including femicide, sexual assault and abuse, harassment, trafficking, genital mutilation, forced marriage and cyber violence, are for the first time recognised in law as acts of gender-based violence. The legislation also covers, for the first time, all forms of male violence, not only physical or psychological, but also social, economic, heritage, sexual, environmental, symbolic and institutional violence.

In addition to the above, the new law promotes the inclusion of victims in the labour market and employment. This includes aid to address social emergencies, as well as measures to facilitate access to housing. Furthermore, for the first time, there is a call for the promotion of studies and research into gender-based violence.  The law also recognises the right to comprehensive social care for all women victims of all forms of violence until such time as the recovery and reparation process is complete. Similarly, a comprehensive care network is set up and all existing resources and services will be accessible electronically via a single website.

What kind of activities is La Rioja organising to teach boys and men to respect girls and women, with a special focus on bullying? Could you tell us more about the project "un punto violeta"? 

Education is key in order to teach boys, young men and adults to respect girls and women and to combat harassment and gender-based violence. In La Rioja, we have specific training resources in this regard for education and associations, such as the Maletas viajeras para la igualdad initiatives, the La caja de los chicos teaching units on new masculinities, as well as the Buenos tratos programme.

In the context of the Corresponsables plan, we will shortly present a guide to co-responsibility for men, and we have carried out an institutional campaign on co-responsibility and the need for male involvement, entitled "¡Aquí un tío de verdad!" ("I'm a real man"), which can be seen here. In addition to this, we have given training to trade unions and associations, so that they in turn can educate men. Besides, thanks to the agreement between the Government of La Rioja and the University of La Rioja, we are providing specific training in this area to future professionals in the fields of education, health and social services.

"Puntos violeta" are spaces that are set up at festivities in different localities and festivals to help raise awareness of sexual assault. They are especially aimed at young people aged 14-30 and aim to provide leisure spaces that are free from any manifestation of violence against women. In 2021, the Government of La Rioja launched this tool to tackle sexual violence, in coordination with the municipalities in La Rioja and festivals. We spoke about a number of points that are part of the Spanish Government and Government of La Rioja's strategy against sexual violence, funded by the Ministry of Equality.

The purple points, which thanks to their great success will once again be active in 2022 and 2023, add to the cross-cutting measures launched by this government to combat sexual violence, such as the campaign to raise awareness of chemical submission, the acquisition of state-of-the-art sampling devices that prevent painful victimisation processes, and the development of protocols in the health sector.

It is important to note that purple points are managed by staff with specific training in socio-educational gender equality, social work, psychology, social education, pedagogy and teaching. They promote awareness-raising, participation and citizen engagement measures that promote gender equality, in order to eliminate and prevent all forms of violence against women, especially sexual violence.

Last year, between 1 July and 30 September, 12 purple points were in place at local festivities and festivals in areas with the highest target population. In total, prevention, awareness-raising and information activities were carried out, reaching around 1000 people, including the over 600 women who took on the role of "ally" during the recreational events, thus helping to prevent instances of sexual assault. In addition, four women who suffered harassment or assault at one of the recreational events received first aid.