Protests against gender-based violence are set to take place across Spain after the body of a six-year-old girl suspected of having been murdered by her father and thrown into the sea was discovered.
An increase in domestic violence cases coincided with the end of state of emergency restrictions in Spain last month.
On Thursday afternoon, search teams looking for two sisters, who had been taken away by their father in late April, recovered the body of the eldest, six-year-old Olivia. She was found in a sports bag, weighted down by an anchor, at a depth of 1,000 meters about 3 miles off the coast of her home island of Tenerife.
A similar but empty bag was found nearby by an oceanographic research vessel equipped with specialized sonar. Spanish Police officers from the Guardia Civil continue to search for Olivia’s one-year-old sister, Anna, and the girls’ father, Tomás Gimeno.
Their mother, Beatriz Zimmerman, told police that her ex-husband called her to say that she would never see the girls again after taking them away on April 27.
The case shocked and irritated Spain. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Twitter Thursday evening: “I cannot imagine the pain of the mother of little Anna and Olivia, who disappeared in Tenerife, given the terrible news we have just had. I send a hug, my love, and that of all my family, which today is in solidarity with Beatriz and his loved ones.
Irene Montero, who is Equality Minister in the Socialist-led coalition government of Sánchez, also sent her condolences and attacked what she called the “indirect violence” of the case. “There are no words to help Beatriz in this moment of terrible pain”, she said on Twitter. “This violence against women who are mothers to hit them where it hurts the most is a national problem. We’re here to do whatever it takes.
Hours later, Montero also offered his condolences to the family of a teenage girl, Rocío Caíz, 17, who was allegedly the 18th woman being murdered by a partner or ex-partner in Spain this year. On Thursday evening, Caíz’s ex-boyfriend, 23, confessed to her murder in the southern region of Seville.
Since the Spanish government began recording gender-based violence murders in 2003, it has recorded the murders of 1,095 women. Since 2013, 39 children have been murdered in domestic violence cases.
In the five weeks since the lifting of the Covid-19 state of emergency in Spain on May 9, 10 women have been murdered by current or former partners. Experts suggest the increase could be due to women trying to escape violent situations after the lockdown ends.
Victoria Rosell, the government delegate against gender-based violence, told Spanish radio on Friday: “We had warned that gender-based violence was one pandemic on top of another. As we overcome the Covid-19 pandemic, we see what was underneath. “
The increase in murders and the discovery of Olivia’s body have sparked a wave of “urgent protests” which will take place in front of town halls across Spain on Friday evening under slogans such as “If you touch one of them. us, you touch us all ”.