According to The Local, Judge María del Carmen Molina Mansilla, a magistrate in northern Spain, asked: “Did you close your legs and all your female organs?” of a woman who came before her to request a restraining order from her alleged aggressor.
The Clara Campoamor Association — named after a Spanish politician and feminist best known for her advocacy for women’s rights and suffrage during the writing of the Spanish constitution of 1931 — is now demanding a full investigation of the magistrate.
On Feb. 16, the unnamed victim — who is four months pregnant — turned up at her local police station in Vitoria, Basque County, to file a complaint against a man who had “repeatedly abused her both sexually and physically”.
The next day she appeared to make a statement before the judge who “showed obvious disbelief of the testimony of the victim, questioned her without allowing her to answer, asking leading and offensive questions,” explained Blanca Estrella Ruiz of the Clara Campoamor Association.
“A clear example of this attitude is the judge’s repeated questions to the victim on whether she made any attempt to resist aggression, including asking her ‘did she close her legs firmly?’ and ‘did she close all of her female organs?’,” Ruiz told Europa Press. “Such questions are not only unnecessary to the investigation but are completely offensive and violate the dignity of the victim.”
The association stated that this type of behaviour was “habitual and continuous” from Judge María del Carmen Molina Mansilla.
“Other women have lodged complaints about the re-victimization they experienced in this court,” it said. “Women are scared as to what might happen to them as victims in this court, and it is disincentivizing them to report such crimes.”
Officials at the Juzgado de Violencia sobre la Mujer Vittoria (Court of Violence against Women) told The Independent that the judge will not be commenting on the matter.
Spain has one of the lowest rates of physical assault and rape in the EU, but the problem remains serious, with one in five women in Spain believed to be victims of assault, according to a 2014 study study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). In comparison, 52 percent of women in Denmark said they had been victims. In Finland and Sweden, the figures were 47 and 46 percent, respectively. In the U.K, 44 percent of women have been victims of partner violence.
It’s crucial that women who have been assaulted feel they have the support they need from the authorities to seek protection and recover from their ordeal. If Judge María del Carmen Molina Mansill isn’t suspended, she needs intensive training in compassion and sensitivity, fast.