You can bar the doors, take all kinds of precautions, but the risk is that the "black man" is already in your house. Once upon a time children were warned against the risk of being lured: «Don't accept candy from strangers». An unconscious pre-globalization racism identified danger with the colour of the stranger par excellence. But the danger does not come from far away as most of the time the torturer lives in the next room, or in the same bed, and is male.

Domestic violence is more and more widespread. The laws that sanction it exist, but they are not always applied with rigor. For this reason, the Council of Europe has entrusted a group of experts with the task of verifying the state of implementation of the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), and results are not encouraging.

A group of international experts calls for more state interventions against domestic violence

Grevio (Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence) believes that many countries do not pay sufficient attention to the issue. In the recently published annual report, specialists describe the strengths and weaknesses of states with regard to the implementation of articles 26, 31 and 45, relating to victims of domestic violence and decisions regarding child custody and visiting rights. The report indicates that, while noting that all states have taken satisfactory measures, «there is still a long way to go», as implementation of the regulations is inconsistent.

A female victim of domestic violence who abandons her partner-abuser, for example, is often alone in facing threats against her children, and the report notes an «alarming rate of murders of women and children».

Compared to the past, however, attention to the phenomenon has increased and the laws are adapting. In Montenegro and Italy, for example, Grevio observed that acts of domestic violence committed in the presence of children lead to more severe penalties, and in some cases are equated with child maltreatment. In Andorra and Montenegro, legislation maintains that witnessing this form of violence is equivalent to having suffered it directly. The legislation of the Principality of Andorra defines «victims» as women who suffer forms of violence based on gender or who witness the mistreatment of children. The aim is to acknowledge their right to social, psychological and medical support. The experts also expressed satisfaction with the recent amendment of Article 156 of the Civil Code of Spain, which eliminates the obligation to obtain the consent of both parents so that a child can benefit from interventions in psychological support and counselling. The abusive parent can thus no longer prevent their children from attending psychotherapy sessions.

Steps forward are therefore being taken. Women and children are not out of danger, but they have more means with which to try to escape from dramatic situations. The fact that the person who threatens their safety is often the one who should have protected them says a lot about human nature.


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