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Do We See Victims’ Agency? Criminal Justice and Gender Violence in Spain

Abstract

The Spanish criminal justice system has a specific Law for Gender Violence (1/2004). This article addresses what happens when a law with a feminist perspective is implemented in a predominantly patriarchal institution. The main aim of this paper is to approach women’s experiences in the Spanish criminal justice system, analysed as a technology of power producing women’s subjectivities, and focusing on their agency. We used a qualitative methodology with participant observation (24 sessions) and in-depth interviews with professionals working with gender violence (17) and women who reported gender violence by their heterosexual partner (11 individual and 1 group). We analysed data with the qualitative analysis software Atlas.ti. The results focus on subjective processes and agency among reporting violence, the expedited trial, protection and restraining orders, and probation.

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Notes

  1. The end of the fieldwork coincided with the enactment of Law 5/2008, an expanson of the 1/2004 law at the regional level.

  2. Excerpts are identified by a number (correlative to the person), the person’s category, and the data collection method. [#32 Woman (GI)] stands for person #32; Woman means Woman who has denounced violence, with diverse psychosocial factors and (GI) means Group Interview. Take a look at Tables to keep track of the persons, categories and data collection methods.

  3. No-drop policies require prosecution of a gender violence perpetrator, regardless of the victim’s wishes, and often force the victim to participant in the prosecutional process.

  4. Victim choice policies are based on her decision to continue or not with the perpetrator’s prosecution.

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Funding

This article is based on two investigations funded by the Institut Català de les Dones (Catalan Institute for Women): [ICD U8/06 (2006–07)] Gender violence and criminal legal space: collective imagniaries and construction of subjectivities, and [ICD U37/08 (2008–09)] Intersection between gender, gender violence, and the law. The subjective experience of women in the criminal justice system.

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Correspondence to Jenny Cubells.

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This article starts from investigations into gender violence and the criminal justice system conducted by the Research Group SGR on Social and Gender Studies on Power and Subjectivity, of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. The investigations were developed during the years 2006–2009 in Catalonia (north-western region in Spain), with the aim of studying the psychosocial aspects related to the implementation of the Spanish Law 1/2004. Measures of Integral Protection against Gender Violence (Law 1/2004. The original title of the law, in Spanish, is: Ley Orgánica 1/2004. de 28 de diciembre de 2004, de Medidas de Protección Integral contra la Violencia de Género. Ley Orgánica means Comprehensive Law, and the first is a sequential number, and the second is the year in which it was approved).

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Cubells, J., Calsamiglia, A. Do We See Victims’ Agency? Criminal Justice and Gender Violence in Spain. Crit Crim 26, 107–127 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10612-017-9379-2

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