Spain's New Far-Right Party Has a Fight with Feminism
Vox - Latin for voice - was formed in late 2013 by disgruntled members of the conservative People's Party. Within five years it has gone from obscurity to sending shock waves through Spain's political system. In December 2018, it won 12 seats in Andalusia's regional election, and it now has its eye on April's snap general election.
Vox uses its voice to sing off the familiar hymn sheet of far-right groups across Europe. But there is one gripe they have, that makes them a little different. Women. They want to repeal Spain's gender violence laws, and want the government to stop funding women's organisations and abortions. There is a spectrum of Women's voices in Spain, and despite their differences, they are all against Vox.
Young feminist collective Vikalarre Feminista are gearing up for Madrid's annual International Women's Day March. Belen says: "Many, many women were not surprised by the rise of Vox. It's simply a party that expresses what other parties were trying to hide so that the alarm bells wouldn't go off."
Pilar says: "Machoism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, has always existed. Now they are protected, because there is a party that will protect them and legitimise everything that they criminalise. When you look at other countries, you can see what could happen here. Look at Le Pen and Trump, Vox defends their policies."
Vox is also anti-immigration and racist, leaving women of colour and immigrant women particularly vulnerable. But not all women of colour feel supported by Spain's huge mainstream feminist movement. There is no diversity. They segregate us. You can see it here in Nelson Mandela Square.
We are racialised, black migrants, says Yania Concepcion Vicente from the group AfroFeminas.
"There are no migrant or black representatives in Parliament, in Congress, in politics. If you go to a Spanish public health space or a Spanish institution, you will not see a migrant or person of colour in that space or working there. Where there is no representation, it is difficult for there to be access to change and Spain resists change."
But every day immigrant women fight back by resisting stereotypes.
Like Soraya Martinez, who is an immigrant, female, taxi driver.
She says: "Many people who get in ask me, 'where are you from?' Their astonishment is 'oh, an immigrant!' as if I could only do a cleaning job. I've encountered, many obstacles, a man will hail my taxi, then say 'oh a woman, no!' and will take my male colleague behind me. Every time I hear the nonsense a politician says, I put my head in my hands and say where did this come from! I haven't even heard these kind of things in my country."
Spain has a deeply rooted macho culture. You can see it in Vox's demands to repeal gender violence laws. And perhaps you can see it most in the case of the Wolfpack gang.
Five men, including a police officer and a soldier, who filmed themselves assaulting an 18-year-old girl, penetrating her at the same time, just 20 minutes after meeting her. The girl called it gang rape, but the courts sentenced the men to the lesser charge of sexual abuse, sparking protest and a national debate about violence against women and machoism in Spanish society.
It is in this context that the rise of Vox is most starkly seen.
Spanish courts received more than 166,000 gender violence complaints in 2017, up 16 percent on the previous year. Around 50 women are killed each year in Spain by their partner or former partner, that's almost one every week. There's a rape reported every eight hours here. And yet Vox want to cut grants to groups that support victims of domestic violence.
Julia Pena, a lawyer from the charity, Women United Against Physical Abuse, says: "If the law against gender violence is repealed, the consequences will be terrible and significantly increase the number of cases of macho violence and ultimately the number of women who die at the hands of their partners and ex-partners for the simple fact of being a woman."
Julia's charity help victims of domestic violence like Carmen who says "she's really scared because I have a daughter and a son. I do not want Vox for the future of my children."