VIRGIN SPAIN. VIOLENT EUROPE
A woman between the ages of 15 and 44 is more likely to be harmed
by her partner than by a war injury, a traffic accident, cancer or malaria...
Pinching a womans bottom in public was once a favourite males
pass-time in any Latin country. Spain was no different. If you were a
young, single, virile and virgin young man in the forties and fifties
in downtown Madrid, with nothing better to do in your leisure time, you
would probably stroll around the Prado or the Puerta
del Sol with a few friends seeking out the opposite sex in order
to have a go. And the girls knew it!
If a young man touches your behind, ignore him and walk right on!
mothers would say. However, if hes handsome and well dressed,
give him a good smack. He may be a good catch, they added.
Todays generations would consider this as sexual harassment and
obnoxious to say the least, yet in those days it was all part of the mating
game. Sex on the other hand was a long way off.
Spains dictatorship had a strong hold on the establishment of the
family unit, specially on the laws regarding marriage (divorce was illegal),
yet it was mostly the parents that set the rules. They made certain that
their daughters remained virgins until marriage. Whilst mother taught
them to cook, sew and make beds, father would ensure that they were home
every night by 10 oclock, ready to sit down do dinner with the rest
of the family. Sons were a different matter. They had to study to become
somebody and eventually earn a living. Provided they werent involved
in any subversive politics and didnt come home drunk,
a blind eye was given regarding their behaviour towards the opposite sex.
Marriage was not only the ultimate goal but the normal transition into
Honeymoon over, it was literally down to family business. The duties of
the head of the household was to earn the daily bread for
spouse and future offspring. The lady of the house, on the
other hand would make sure that the home was clean, the children cared
for and the larder full of food. There were no supermarkets, no frozen
goods and refrigerators were a luxury. Food in general was not always
plentiful, so Mama Emilia would spend most of her mornings
at the nearby markets, haggling over the catch of the day
or the price of a chicken. It was also her daily outing to gossip with
fellow housewives and mothers. Papa Pedro on the other hand,
would be off on the tram at the crack of dawn eager to return for his
din-dins at around 2 oclock. A small siesta and back
to the office till eight. Weekends were slightly different. Whilst Emilia
sewed and played with the kids, Pedro was at the local stadium watching
football. A coffee and brandy with his mates after the match and back
for more din-dins in the evening. Thus was a normal week in the life of
a Spanish family some fifty years ago.
Todays feminists wouldve gone bonkers over such
sadistic and male chauvinist lifestyles. There were other factors that
would have added fuel to their movement such as womens education,
sexual abuse and domestic violence all within a family unit. Higher education
was mostly limited to men, women had to fight hard to go to university.
Although nowhere near todays aggressive statistics, sexual abuse
was limited to hubbys pleasure whenever he was aroused. Because
of ignorance, lack of family planning and contraception, as well as a
strong backing from the Catholic church, Spanish families grew to be large.
The odd small ones would rely on the British Railway system. Always pulling
out on time! But the main point is that marriages lasted.
Unlike todays civilised generations that enjoy sexual equality and
freedom, change partners in tune with their jobs and consider children
as yet another consumer item, Spanish families of old stuck together.
As the marriage vows stated: For better or for worse. As an
example, the small town council of Arbo in Galicias hinterland gave
homage to 27 elderly parish couples that recently celebrated their golden
wedding anniversaries. As the mayor, Manuel Rivera in his honouring speech
stated: its all a question of putting up with it. Couples
must understand each other and sometimes its the man who puts up
with it and other times its the woman.
But there has always been an age old seedier side to mans relationship
with a woman. Despite the evolutionary differences over time between men
and women, violence has always been around. Males will continue to bash
their female counterparts brains out, regardless of what century
were talking about.
Jose Dominguez Rivero, two Saturdays ago, returned home from ploughing
his fields in the border town of Verin near Portugal. He started a row
with his wife Josefa, and then cracked her across the forehead with a
large stone. She fell to the ground in a pool of blood and died soon after.
Although Josefa had officially denounced Jose for aggression in the past,
the authorities had done nothing about it. Jose, on the other hand, denied
all knowledge of the murder and said that it mustve been a thief
or some other marauder. By the way, Jose is 75 years old! Although the
age of the culprit of this particular case is unusual, female sexual aggression
is an extremely serious and criminal offence, and what is worse, is on
the rise throughout the world. Spain is not alone.
During the week of the 18th of February, the Labour and Social Services
Ministers of the European Union got together in Santiago de Compostela
to discuss the malaise and agree on a future program to combat the problem.
The statistics presented at the on set of the conference were frightening.
A woman between the ages of 15 and 44 is more likely to be harmed
by her partner than by a war injury, a traffic accident, cancer or malaria,
said Anna Diantopoulou, Europes Social Services Commissioner. Despite
the fact that this problem is considered a crime, legislation on this
matter is different in each state. It is therefore very difficult to unify
it under a common European law. As usual, economics would have its
say, as Spanish Minister, Juan Carlos Aparicio pointed out. An example
is Finland, whereby aggression against women cost the taxpayer 50000 million
Euros per annum, he concluded. Whew! What are we looking at in reality?
Is this kind of violence only limited to men against women or is there
more to it? Is it any different as a present day problem to, lets say
20 or 30 years ago? I would think not.
The world as a whole continues to go through its usual historical
convulsion of different sorts of violence and for innumerable different
reasons. Israelis against Palestinians, Argentines against Argentines,
schoolchildren against schoolchildren, the USA against the whole world!
Sexual violence is yet another syndrome of mans inhumanity to man.
Theyve all been around for years. The difference is in the numbers
(on the increase) and, thanks to modern communications the ease of access
to news as well as statistical information. We now hear and know more
What is the real solution? Education? Legislation? World agreements? Who
knows? It could be anybodys guess. All we can do is to keep on trying
and hoping for world peace and understanding for mankind. Personally?
Im still thinking about it. Look out for my memoirs in years to
come. (Editor take note!)
© James Skinner. 2002
James lives in Vigo and has been married to the same unbeaten wife for
several decades now.
EURO HONEYMOON IS OVER. SO WHATS NEXT?
knows whether a project is legitimate or worse, whether the figures presented
to complete the criteria, example number of new jobs created, is genuine
or pie in the sky.
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