Letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on VAWG
Ms Reem Alsalem
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes, and consequences
The United Nations
December 12, 2022
Dear Ms Alsalem,
We have read the letter you sent on November 18, 2022, to the Scottish Government regarding the safety risks to women and girls entailed by the Gender Recognition Reform Bill that is currently before the Scottish Parliament. We welcome your intervention, and we hope you can also turn your attention to a similar, if not more sweeping, Bill under consideration in the Spanish Parliament.
The Spanish Government approved a Bill of Law last June that -if becoming an actual Law- would compromise women's and girls' rights as guaranteed by CEDAW. The referred Bill has a rather long name, “121/000113 Proyecto de Ley para la igualdad real y efectiva de las personas trans y para la garantía de los derechos de las personas LGTBI” and as you can read in text, its exact scope directly affects different protected groups and the wider society. The Bill of Law, often referred to (even by politicians and the media) as “Trans Law,” though not a Law yet, is scheduled to be voted on at Congress on December 22, 2022, to be sent to our Senate for approval in early 2023.
Critical areas of the Bill that directly compromise women's and girls’ right to a life free of violence include but are not limited to:
I. Erasure of the right of women and girls to single-sex and separate sex provisions and services. These include, but are not limited to, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, rape and intimate partner violence counseling services, and prisons.
II. Erasure of the right of employers to limit who performs a given job or task by sex in relevant cases like intimate medical examinations and strip searching.
III. Compromise sex-disaggregated data collection and analysis for prevention and response to violence against women and girls, including recording of crimes perpetrated against women and girls by men who self-identify as women.
The issues above would be a direct consequence of the core aspect of the Bill--the introduction of Self-ID for every person over 14 years old ([art. 38 of the Bill]. Indeed, based on self-declaration, anyone would be able to get a “rectification to the mention of sex on the registry,”; something that would have legal effect for all purposes; because sex is the identity data recorded in the Spanish civil registry; gender is not considered a legal category).
The Bill also bans any non-affirmative health care despite the growing evidence that children, particularly girls, have been let down by breaches of Safeguarding policies by the medical community in many countries, including Spain and the UK.
A specific ban on so-called “conversion therapies” [art. 17], could criminalize therapists dealing with dysphoric children and youth and consider ‘non-affirming’ parents as dangerous for the wellbeing of their children [art. 66.4], who could be losing legal custody.
Since most children and adolescents who have expressed discomfort with their sex in the last decade are increasingly female, the Bill effectively reduces girls’ right to comprehensive and holistic healthcare. The Bill would refer to non-affirmative talk therapy as “conversion therapy” (which it bans), discouraging therapists from accepting patients that reject their biological sex. The mentioned situation would be the case even if/when girls seek treatment for underlying conditions such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, abuse-related issues, disability, or issues related to coming to terms with their sexuality.
The Bill criminalizes critical expert views and beliefs (what is referred to in Spain as “Gag Law”), with fines of up to 150,000 euros [art. 76] for not complying with the new provisions, primarily aimed at psychologists who might be assisting distressed children and youth.
The change proposed to our legal system violates CEDAW and CRC, amongst other international human rights instruments, as well as Spanish equality legislation, namely Spanish Organic Law 3/2007 of March 22, 2007, on effective equality of women and men, and Organic Law 1/2004, of December 28, on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender-Based Violence, which would no longer safeguard women’s protections before the law.
The “obligation to make sure that all processes that affect the lives of all women and girls put them at the center of their deliberations, as well as its responsibility to take and enforce all measures to end violence against women”, which you mention in your letter, has been unmet. Feminist women's rights organizations, women's rights advocates, and women's groups have been trying to meet and discuss with the Ministry of Equality and government officials for two years, sending emails, making phone calls, and publishing open letters, to minimal effect. Public consultations on the draft law were rushed (only available for 15 days in August during the holiday when people were not paying attention to the Official State Gazette). Unfortunately, the Government has rushed every step of the parliamentary proceedings without assessing all foreseeable consequences of the proposed Bill.
The lack of discussion and assessment of the Bill contradicts CEDAW's recommendation that “States should develop and evaluate all legislation, policies, and programs in consultation with civil society organizations, in particular women's organizations, including those that represent all women affected by intersecting forms of discrimination.”
Therefore, we are writing to ask you to pay attention to the Spanish “Trans Law” and share your concerns and recommendations with the Spanish Government and Parliament at your earliest convenience since the Government attempts to pass this Bill into Law real soon.
We hope the Government will listen to you in your capacity as a defender of women’s and girls’ rights to a life free of violence worldwide.
With our highest consideration,
Women's Declaration International Spain
along with 1185 additional endorsements, including the following
AA MM Feministas Rurales Malagueñas, AFERUM
AAMM FEMINISTAS MARCELA LAGARDE
Amables Titulares de Derechos
AMANDA - Agrupación de Madres de Adolescentes y NIñas con Disforia Acelerada
AMCE Asociación de Mujeres de la Cultura y la Educaciôn
As.Mujeres Vecinales ORRIOLS
As.Veïns i Veïnes B.Orriols-Rascanya
Asamblea de Mujeres Feministas de Ciudad Real
Asamblea Feminista Medio Vinalopó
Asemblea Feminista Paxaretas
ASFEMAS (Asamblea Feminista Asturiana)
Asociación Clasicas y Modernas para la Igualdad de mujeres y hombres en la cultura
Asociacion cultural de mujeres ciudad del paraiso paraisoa
Asociación de Mujeres Feministas de Móstoles
Asociación de Mujeres Feministas Tomando Partido
Asociación de Mujeres Malvaluna
Asociación Feminista Gafas Moradas
Asociación Feminista Leonesa Flora Tristan
Asociación Iruña Abolicionista Asociacion las independientes
Asociacion Mujeres Nerea Asociación Mujeres para la Salud
Asociación Mujeres por la Paz
Asociación para la Defensa de la Imagen Pública de las Mujeres
Asociación por la Igualdad de género de Castellón
Asociación SARAE de desarrollo y cooperación internacional
Asociación Zenobia Camprubí Borriana
Associació de Dones Antígona
Associació de Dones La Frontissa
Centro de estudios e investigación sobre mujeres CERES
Coalición Internacional para la Abolición de la Explotación Reproductiva (CIAMS)
Col•lectiu de dones feministes de Montcada.Valencia
Colectivo feminista Horizonte Violeta
Dones de Xirivella en Accio
Europa Sense Murs
FADEMUR - Federacion de Asociaciones de Mujeres Rurales
Federación de Mujeres Progresistas
Feministas de Aragón
Feministas Tomando Partido- Malaga
Feministes de Catalunya
Foro de mujeres de el Llano
Foro Feminista de Castilla y León
Foro Feminista de Lugo
Foro Mujeres del Llano
FORUM DE POLITICA FEMINISTA
Fórum de Política Feminista Agrupación Córdoba
Fórum de Política Feminista de Granada
Fórum de Política Feminista de Málaga
Forum Infancias Aragón Gaia Feminista
GARENAK: Emakume Feministak
Garraf per la República
Grupo de trabajo "psicoanalisis y sociedad" del colegio de psicologia de catalunya
La Mirada de Lilith
Liceu de Dones de Castelló
Lobby europeo de mujeres de España (LEM)
Mujeres Abolicionistas de Extremadura
Mujeres feministas María Cambrils
Mujeres por Derecho
Mujeres por la Igualdad de Barredos-Laviana. Asturias
Mujeres por la Igualdad de Calp
PARTIDO FEMINISTAS AL CONGRESO
Plataforma Abolicionista de Zaragoza
Plataforma andaluza de apoyo al lobby europeo de Mujeres
Plataforma catalana de suport al lobby europeu de dones
Plataforma contra las violencias machistas - Violencia Cero
Plataforma Feminista Almería
Plataforma Feminista de Estepa
Plataforma por la Igualdad Raspeig
Plataforma Seneca Falls
Rede Galega pola Igualdade (A REGAI)
Tertulia Feminista Les Comadres
Trece Rosas Zamora
XARXA DE DONES DE LA MARINA