Violence begins at home
by Ignacio Ramonet
IN Europe right now the statistics of male violence against female partners are terrible. For European women aged 16-44 violence in the home is the primary cause of injury and death, more lethal than road accidents and cancer. Between 25% and 50% of women are victims of this violence. In Portugal 52.8% of women say that they have been violently treated by their husbands or partners. In Germany almost 300 women a year - or three women every four days - are killed by men with whom they used to live. In Britain one woman dies in similar circumstances every three days.
In Spain it is one every four days. In France six women die this way every month: 33% of them are knifed, 33% shot, 20% strangled and 10% beaten (1). In the 15 member states of the European Union (before enlargement to 25), more than 600 women die every year because of sexist brutality in the family (2).
The profile of the aggressor is not what you might imagine. There is a public perception that these types of killers tend to be from poor backgrounds and with little education. That is not the case. The death of the actress Marie Trintignant, who was killed on 6 August 2003 by her partner, a famous artist, is an example.
A report from the Council of Europe (3) says that "it is even proved that the incidence of domestic violence seems to increase with income and level of education". It stresses that in the Netherlands "almost half of all those who commit violence against women hold university degrees". In France attackers are usually men whose professional status gives them a degree of power. A sizeable percentage of the attackers are management personnel (67%), health professionals (25%) and officers in the police or army (4).