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Despair caused by the economic crisis increases the violence against children at home

9 May
  • UNICEF and the Red Cross warn about the consequences of the evictions or the unemployment.
  • They note that the violence is also  psychological; they are victims of the distress.
  • “A social breach that perpetuates poverty has been generated in families”.


The violence against minors in the family environment is increasing because of the situations of tension and desperation that many Spanish families are living in their homes due to the economic crisis, according to an opinion shared by both experts in the judicial sector those from organizations dealing with childhood defense.

During the celebration of the conference “Economic crisis, minors and justice”, Victoria Ortega, the general secretary of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers – the representative body that controls the professional activities of lawyers  –  claimed that “although the numbers are for guidance only”, the violence against minors could have increased a 13.6 % in 2012.

Precisely, some days before the celebration of the conference, the ANAR Foundation  –  an NGO which provides help for children and teenagers at risk in Spain and Latin America  –  estimated that 1,778 children and teens have been victims of some type of serious violence in Spain during 2012 and indicated this was an increase compared to 2011.

They also stressed that physical abuse  in family environment is the first reason for the intervention of social and legal services from ANAR. It is relevant to add that in 22.5 % of the cases the abuser was the father, in 15 % the mother and in 6.3 % of them violence was exerted by both parents. If we add up these figures, pointed the ANAR program director, Benjamin Ballesteros, “we find that in 43.3 % of the cases the abusers were the people responsible for taking care and looking after the protection of minors. This is something heartbreaking.”

After the statement of the ANAR Foundation, new testimonies add new points of view to this issue. “In daily coexistence, there is a situation of tension, of desperation that unfortunately can lead to violence situations, in which minors are the weakest and most unprotected part; these are anguishing situations that families live. The lawyers’ representative considered the following: “we are not talking about an exclusively physical violence, but about distress that is transferred to the minors.”

In addition, she claimed that “the austerity imposed by public administration” was having an effect on jurisdictional protection of minors. The lawyer was sorry that “all these circumstances, as a consequence of economic crisis or of the way of facing the crisis with a policy based on austerity and cutbacks, could affect the defense of minors’ rights”. She reminded that “treatment towards minors in court must be different from the one given to adults, as in the need of psychological support and the time spent in assisting them, which should be more.”

From Unicef, the responsible for Infancy, Gabriel González Bueno, warned about “the tension at homes is causing a growth of violence suffered by children” and the “future costs originated by not intervening during the childhood.”

“Children live eviction processes, the separation of parents who have difficulties to maintain two homes and they suffer cutbacks in specialized attention because of the reduction of resources in the field of justice”, he explained. He reminded that unemployment affects twice as much in households with children:, in families with minors, in particular, it increased by 120 percent between 2007 and 2010.

“We have a very intense problem of child poverty”, Unicef representative opined. He stated that “child poverty does not depend on the wealth of nations, but on policies that are applied.”

In this sense, he regretted that benefits for children “were more expendable” during the crisis. “May it have something to dowith the fact that children do not vote?”. He also warned that in some countries with very strong economic crisis,” the juvenile delinquency grows a lot.”

The spokeswoman for Save the Children, Yolanda Roman, also agreed that “in familiar setting where high stress is experienced, violence against children increases physically and psychologically.” Carlos Chana, the project manager from the Spanish Red Cross, stressed the “social gap” which the crisis is generating and the poverty that affects two million two hundred thousand children in Spain.

“The face of minors who suffer povert,” said the manager of Red Cross, “is the face of children of unemployed people without social service or family support, minors under guardianship, immigrants, and children with a disability or with chronic illnesses, whose treatments are not covered by public health service.”

“A social gap has been created in families which will be passed on from generation to generation and it will perpetuate poverty”, he added. The coordinator of the Cermi Network for Children with Disabilities, Inés de Araoz, predicted that cuts in social assistance “will provoke the existence of more disabled children in the future.”


Spanish National Department of Traffic urges doctors to point out which patients cannot drive

7 May

Provincial traffic chiefs can “temporarily revoke the driving license” 


Doctors can notify the Provincial Traffic Headquarters that a patient who is taking medication, or with a temporary or permanent illness, can’t drive. In this way, it will be possible for the process of revocation of the driving license to begin, either during a time or indefinitely. “But maybe this mechanism is not known by doctors”, warned last March the General Director of Traffic, María Seguí, who had been meeting with “different collectives” before the statement and continued after it in order to improve the process of communication, and in this way “involve” the doctors in the improvement of the security on the roads.

During the presentation of the Global status report on road safety 2013, Seguí has reminded that the doctors who “feel the certainty” that their patients are not able to drive can protect their health by taking them out of the road, although she admitted that the communication channel existing with the provincial traffic chiefs isn’t “suitably” known. Moreover, “lots of doctors set out the dilemma of the patient’s confidence and confidentiality, pointed out the Traffic director.

In 2010, the Office of Road Safety, prompted a protocol for doctors for doctors to contribute to stop from driving those people who have lost their mental and physical abilities and aptitudes, by disease or by taking any medication. According to this protocol, when doctors were aware that one of their patients could commit a traffic offence, they should try to resolve it with therapy. If this didn´t work, the advise was to bring t it to the attention of the family and, as a last resort, to the attention the relevant administrative and judicial authorities.

Spain, twelfth country in road safety

Spain is the twelfth country in the world with fewer deaths from traffic accidents. According to the document, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO)  –  data from 2010 from 182 countries  –  Spain has a rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 populations. However, in 2011, the last year with consolidated figures, the number of traffic fatalities fell again: 2,060 people died, 418 less than in 2010.

Iceland, with a tax of 2.8, Sweden (3), United Kingdom (3.7), Holland (3.9) and Norway (4.3) are the five countries with a lower ratio of deceased. Even though the objective of Spain is to reduce the tax to the 3.7 in 2020, Seguí has already taken the reference of the Swedish tax. “Even a 3 is possible, because other countries with less deceased have less inhabitants and less road traffic”, she pointed. Seguí showcased that Spain is one of the 28 countries in the world with a specific legislation to reduce the accident rate in the five crucial risk factors in traffic crashes pointed by the WHO: over-speeding, drink-driving, non-use of motorcycle helmets, use of seat belts and child restrain systems. According to the director of the National Department of Traffic, the reform of the General Traffic Rules precisely aims to improve the “amplitude” of the Spanish legislation regarding the speed, the seat belt and the use of child restrain systems.


The culminanting days of Valencian Fallas

16 Apr

On March the 18th, Valencia had come to the culminating days of their festival, the Fallas, a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph in this city, in which beautiful huge figures (fallas) are built in order to be burned. The Fallas coincided this year with a long holiday weekend, and so the city was taken by a tide of visitors moving through the city to enjoy the sunshine of its fallas, the emotion of the Offering to the patron saint and the pyrotechnics spectacle of the Nit del Foc (Valencian for “Night of the Fire”) and the Cremà (the ceremony in which the fallas are burned).

 In that full spring atmosphere, and with no more rainy days, festive music and the symphony of firecrackers became the soundtrack of a film in which the smell of gunpowder, the fritter with chocolate flavor, the devotion to the Virgin and the hours until the arrival of purifying fire are always erected as protagonists.

 A million people  –  including Valencians, visitors from nearby towns and tourists  –  spent a time together in a city besieged by traffic chaos  – causing more than 550 blocked roads  –  and which saw the “no vacancies” billboard hanging in many of the hotels in the city, whose average occupancy is estimated to have been around 85%.


The city, packed out

 With the new freedom of schedules in many areas of Valencia, a lot of small retailers and big malls took advantage of the avalanche of people which invaded, mainly, the centre of the city to open their shops and search for an opportunity that could give them a rest.

 On this March 18th, one day more  –  and it had been already eighteenth of them – thousands of people packed out the town hall’s plaza to enjoy the rythm, the intensity and the roar turned into art in the typical mascletá, which consists of firecrackers that explode one after another making a lot of noise. These firecrackers were shot that day by the Caballer de Godella Pyrotechnics.

 Barely having time to digest this thunderous spectacle, at 3.30pm the second day of the touching Offering to the Virgin of the Defenseless started, one of the most crowded and emotional acts of the festival. Around 100.000 people participated during two days, including falleros – people in charge of taking care of the fallas – and musicians.

A cape of carnations

 60,000 bouquets of white and red carnations – though there were some yellow ones too  –  were left at the patron saint’s feet by touched “falleras”. These bouquets were later arranged by the “vestidores”, men who are in charge of preparing the Virgin’s cape. They must distribute the bouquets in the right places of the “vestidor”, a base to place the bouquets that forms the cape, so that the design of the cape is completed at the end of the day.

 “Dressing my queen” was the title of the spectacular design of this year’s cape, that the Virgin wore figuratively with a typical “manteleta”  – a kind of embroidered shawl, part of the traditional valencian costume.

 Hundreds of people gathered during the route along the streets of the city up to the Basilica in order to cheer up, make flattering comments and immortalize the participants with their cameras and mobile phones, specially babies and little “falleras” that paraded with grace to the festivity music

Halfway between civic and religious, this ceremony, in which people cry and smile while paying tribute to their patron saint, finished, according to the tradition, when the Virgin was given an offering by the main fallera, Begoña Jiménez. After that, since the weather allowed it, the “Nit del Foc” took place, the most important fireworks display at the Fallas.

Nit del foc: the Night of the Fire

 Ricardo Caballer Pyrotechnics has been responsible for the spectacular fireworks for eight years. And this year, the sky was decorated by them with smiling faces, stars, spirals and butterflies for more than twenty minutes. 7,500 elements and 2,750 kilos of regulated materials were used to achieve this spectacle.


It took place on Monday, 18th March, at 1,30 a.m. ; and it announced the arrival of Saint Joseph’s Day, when each year almost 800 monuments – big and children’s sizes –  all around the city are burnt for all night and morning long. Then they rise from their ashes to welcome spring and, of course, 2014 Fallas.