Rocío Fons: “The current situation is a clear setback in the fight for gender equality”

The magistrate of a court of first instance in Elche, Lorca and Mula (Murcia), Rocío Fons, gave an online seminar organised by the UIC Barcelona Equality Office. It took place on 29 November, on the occasion of the recent International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and addressed how this violence affects people between the ages of 16 and 24.

Three recent studies —the Macroencuesta de violencia contra la mujer (2019) the Informe sobre violencia sexual del Hospital Clínic de Barcelona (2021) and the Poder Judicial (2021)— have identified the same issue: what is happening among young people between the ages of 16 and 24, for whom violence is increasing rather than declining?

The aforementioned reports coincide in indicating an increase in control favoured by the intensive use of social networks, the home as a place of aggression and the profile of the perpetrators (friends or acquaintances), coupled with the low propensity to report incidences and the high psychological consequences suffered by victims.

According to Rocío Fons, the message is not getting through: “We supposedly make young women more independent and autonomous,” she says, “but the facts show us that this is not the case. Do they know what ‘no means no’ really means, and how to make themselves heard?” For the judge, the most worrying concern is that young people do not seem to recognise the language of violence. “This situation”, she says, “represents a clear setback in the fight for equality because it is missing the most important factor: respect”.

Over the past sixteen years, as judge of a court of first instance in Elche, Lorca and Mula (Murcia), Fons has witnessed a clear and worsening trend: "Violent crimes perpetrated by young people are on the rise and, therefore, so is gender-based violence. In many cases, they come from families in which they witness violence, which have strong family detachment. Other times, they are simply gang members driven by peer pressure. However, we also see cases of young people who come from families with good educational and financial backgrounds, who seem to be influenced by social media, influencers, television series and even some reggaeton songs".

A proposal was brought forward to work with these young people to improve the situation, offer better sex education in schools and work organically with the health, education, justice and media sectors. UIC Barcelona has promoted various initiatives in this regard since 2018 as part of the Spanish Government's State Pact against Gender-based Violence and in collaboration with other Catalan universities.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)