GENDER PERSPECTIVE IN THE SPANISH CRIMINAL JURISDICTION
Gender perspective is a tool or methodology that allows us to identify, question, and assess discrimination and inequality in the treatment of men and women arising from social roles. Gender perspective ensures a justice system free from stereotypes and guarantees the effective constitutional right to judicial protection and real equality between women and men.
The most cruel and extreme manifestation of inequality between men and women is found in gender-based violence. This term gained prominence following the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 under the auspices of the UN.
Gender-based violence is a form of structural violence directed against women solely because of their gender, seriously undermining their enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms.
In Spain, the recognition of violence against women as a specific problem deserving special attention began with the reform carried out by Organic Law 3/1989, of July 21. This was followed by five other Organic Laws enacted between 1999 and 2003, which introduced a series of criminal and procedural measures aimed at protecting women from gender-based violence.
In this context, Organic Law 1/2004, of December 28th, on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender Violence, was introduced. In the field of criminal jurisdiction, it opted for specialization through the creation of Courts of Violence against Women, which handle the investigation and, if necessary, the trial of criminal cases in this area, as well as related civil cases. It also established the figure of the Prosecutor for Gender Violence, responsible for supervising and coordinating the respective sections of the Public Prosecutions, staffed by specialized prosecutors.
Subsequently, the reform carried out by Organic Law 7/2015 expanded the scope of offenses falling under the jurisdiction of the Violence against Women Courts, emphasized the specialized training of legal professionals, and provided technical and professional assistance by teams affiliated with the Administration of Justice, particularly within Forensic Medicine Institutes, which include psychologists and social workers.
In accordance with the State Pact on Gender Violence, Organic Law 5/2018 reformed the Organic Law of the Judicial Power in three main aspects:
- Inclusion of specific gender violence subjects in access tests, specialized training at the Judicial School, and ongoing training for the Judicial and Prosecution careers.
- Selective specialization exams on violence against women, similar to those already existing in commercial or juvenile matters.
- Specialization of Criminal Courts, either exclusively when workload justifies it or concurrently with other areas through the appropriate judicial structure modification.
Finally, Royal Decree-Law 9/2018 incorporated a series of measures into Article 20 of Organic Law 1/2004 aimed at enhancing the victim's participation in the criminal process, such as:
- The urgent appointment of a lawyer and legal representative for victims in gender-based violence proceedings to ensure their immediate presence for defense and representation.
- The legal empowerment of the victim's lawyer to act as their legal representative before the victim's formal involvement in the process.
- The possibility for the victim to join the criminal proceedings as a private prosecutor at any stage of the criminal process.