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Minister Verge: "Catalonia is a pioneer at the national and European level in the legal recognition of vicarious violence"

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Minister Verge: "Catalonia is a pioneer at the national and European level in the legal recognition of vicarious violence"

  1. The minister asked the Spanish government to make gender perspective training mandatory in the judiciary to put an end to revictimisation
  2. Some 300 people, including professionals specialised in addressing this form of violence, victims, and institutions, are taking part in the meeting to outline a road map for progress in eradicating vicarious violence


The Minister for Equality and Feminisms, Tània Verge Mestre, gave the institutional welcome to the 3rd National Meeting on Vicarious Violence and Institutional Gender Violence in Spain, which took place in Barcelona on 22 and 23 March at the Barcelona Bar Association (ICAB).

“Catalonia is a pioneer at the national and European level in the legal recognition of vicarious violence and the due diligence of public authorities,” said Verge, reaffirming the Government’s commitment to eradicating gender-based violence and to raising awareness, detecting, and combating vicarious violence. Verge highlighted the link between vicarious violence and institutional violence, an area of violence that Catalan law against gender-based violence is pioneering in recognising.

Thus, Catalonia recognises vicarious violence, which is exerted against children with the purpose of causing psychological harm to the mother, as a form of gender-based violence in Law 17/2020, of 22 December, amending Law 5/2008 on the right of women to eradicate gender-based violence. Furthermore, the law is pioneering in incorporating the concept of due diligence, understood as the obligation of public authorities to intervene properly to guarantee the rights of women and their immediate environment. In this sense, Minister Verge stated that “the duty of institutions is to end institutional violence, and therefore it is necessary to address it directly and for each institution, according to its powers, to allocate resources and do what is expected of it to eradicate it”. Specifically, Verge called on the Spanish government to “do what is necessary for the State to make gender perspective training mandatory for all legal operators (judges, prosecutors, judicial secretaries...) to put an end to the revictimisation that still occurs in the judicial sphere”.

Catalan legislation also identifies Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) as institutional violence. PAS is a false syndrome that is used in custody cases to separate children from their mother by alleging that they feel rejection towards the father because the mother has psychologically manipulated them. The UN has demanded that states legislate to ban its use in family lawsuits.

Verge ended her inaugural speech stating that “we must be able to respond firmly to the main question that persists in the legal field, but also in the social, educational, or cultural spheres:a male aggressor cannot be a good father”. The minister ended by expressing “all our gratitude to the protective mothers and feminist organisations, for your continuous struggle, which is also our own”.

The conference was held in Catalonia because it is considered a benchmark in the fight against gender-based violence, and has extensive experience in addressing and implementing measures aimed at preventing and eradicating vicarious violence and institutional violence. In this regard, the aim of the conference is to outline a road map for progress in the eradication of these forms of violence against women. To do so, the conference aims to raise awareness of the impacts of these forms of violence, expose the underlying pattern that generates them, and give voice to the victims (mothers and their daughters and sons), as well as propose solutions prioritising common strategies among the various stakeholders, under a comprehensive approach of human rights and gender and childhood perspectives.

This year, the conference focuses on the voices of children and adolescents affected by these forms of violence, so that they are heard by all professionals with competence in addressing the issue. Thus, the event is aimed at professionals working in the eradication and prevention of this violence, especially in the legal, health and social services fields.