Have other countries not acknowledged the problem?
Martine Levy visits wewomen ©Florent Catteau
No, I think that everyone in Europe knows that violence against women exists. But not everybody finds it totally abnormal. Violence is a phenomenon of our society; it is common practice, a way of dealing with frustration or anger. Or even an expression of passion – just look at our football games.
Currently, there are lots of discussions going on about the fight against domestic violence …
Yes, and that's important too, especially in Europe. The fact is that every fifth woman in Europe is a victim of domestic violence. In addition, 10 percent of all women are subjected to rape or sexual violence.
How promising are these endeavours?
It is important that the matter is being talked about. That has brought about many improvements already. The fact that in France, Germany and the UK it is the violent man who has to move out and keep away from the shared home – and not the woman who needs to go and hide – represents good progress. In this respect there have been improvements virtually everywhere. But victim protection, the number of women's refuges for instance, is still shockingly bad. Shockingly!
Is it better if the minister for equal opportunities is a woman?
I think so, yes. Because she has greater sensitivity. Violence is found at all levels of society, which means that every woman will have seen it in her environment or come into contact with victims of violence. There are many factors that might increase the tendency to use violence. The current economic crisis, for instance. That also represents a danger for Spain, which has of course been hit very hard. We shall have to wait and see...