MADRID (Reuters) – Chanting for gender equality and bearing purple banners, thousands of people took to the streets across Spain on Thursday evening in marches to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
In Madrid a crowd of mostly women advanced up one of the capital’s main avenues to the lilting rhythm of a squadron of samba drummers, while similar scenes played out in Barcelona, Valencia and other cities, TV footage showed.
This year’s slogan was ‘Enough’ as hundreds marched through central Madrid with some banners calling to put an end to gender-based violence.
The central government’s regional office said that around 1,200 people took part in one of the main protests in downtown Madrid.
“(I am tired) of the wage gap, of violence against women, everything, all the difference between men and women, all the problems that exist nowadays, can be felt in this society where we do not have the same rights,” said maths student Carolina Sanchez, 21, at the rally in Madrid.
Earlier on Thursday representatives from all of Spain’s main political parties, apart from the far-right Vox, renewed an agreement to guarantee funding for programmes to combat violence against women and help victims.
“Violence against women is a matter of state, the fight for the freedom of all women is a matter of state,” Equality Minister Irene Montero told reporters shortly after the signing ceremony.
Women’s rights have been thrust to the political forefront in Spain, which has recently tightened its sexual violence laws to define all non-consensual sex as rape.
Last week the government broadened its definition of “gender violence” crimes, which it has been monitoring since 2003, to include the killings of all women by men, regardless of the killer’s relationship with the victim.
Previously such crimes were only counted if the assailant had been in a relationship with his victim.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez touted recent legislative improvements but stressed that much work remained to be done.
“What we need to do is make visible this drama that unfortunately many women suffer every day,” he said at an event ahead of the demonstration.
Women who have died from gender violence in Spain have increased to 1,118 since 2003, when statistics were first officially recorded, according to the Ministry of Equality.
In 2021, 37 women died compared to 46 a year earlier.
(Reporting by Elena Rodriguez, Marco Trujillo, Nathan Allen and Jesús Aguado; Editing by Richard Chang)