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Gender and Violence in Spanish Culture

From Vulnerability to Accountability


Edited By María José Gámez Fuentes and Rebeca Maseda García

For the true exercise of citizenship to occur, gender violence must be eradicated, as it is not an interpersonal problem, but an attack on the very concept of democracy. Despite increasing social awareness and legal measures taken to fight gender violence, it is still prevalent worldwide. Even in a country such as Spain, praised in the UN Handbook for Legislation on Violence Against Women (2010) for its advanced approach on gender violence, the legal framework has proved insufficient and deeper sociocultural changes are needed. This book presents, in this respect, groundbreaking investigations in the realm of politics, activism, and cultural production that offer both a complex picture of the agents involved in its transformation and a nuanced panorama of initiatives that subvert the normative framework of recognition of victims of gender violence. As a result, the book chapters articulate a construction of the victim as a subject that reflects and acts upon his/her experience and vulnerability, and also adopt perspectives that frame accountability within the representational tradition, the community, and the state.

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Chapter Five: Feminist Activism and the Role of Memory in Revisiting the Discourse on Gender Violence in Spain (Laura Castillo Mateu)


chapter five

Feminist Activism and the Role of Memory in Revisiting the Discourse on Gender Violence in Spain

Laura Castillo Mateu


The aim of this chapter is to locate feminist activism vis-à-vis issues of memory and reparative justice in Spanish democracy since the presidential legislatures of socialist José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero. To this end, in the first place we explore the role of his cabinet in implementing a politics of recognition during Spain’s second period of socialist government (2004–2011) in relation to the previous socialist period (1982–1996) and the democratic transition (1975–1978). This historical framework will give the reader an understanding of how the absence of accountability to the victims of the Civil War (1936–1939) and the repression of the Francoist regime (1939–1975) helped bring about a democratic peace based on silence, forgiveness and oblivion that, moreover, invisibilized the role of women in both the resistance to the dictatorship and in constructing an equalitarian democracy.

In contrast, during Zapatero’s legislatures, the Historical Memory Law (2007) was passed. This, along with the climate generated through the approval of the Law against Gender Violence (2004), the Equality Law (2005) and the Same-sex Marriage Law (2005), provided a decisive framework to revise the memories and victimhood status of those groups invisibilized from the official pre-democratic account of history and from the transition period. In this context, it became obvious that Spain’s democracy needed to...

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