MIJAS COUNCIL has launched a scheme to prevent gender abuse among foreign residents.
The initiative has seen members of the Red Cross, National Police, Guardia Civil, Local Police, La Cala Lions Club and Soroptimist International join forces with the council to combat the problem.
Roy Perez, Councillor for Foreigners, explained the scheme would, “respond to and create a protocol of action in cases of gender violence among the foreign population,” adding 40 per cent of the population was made up by foreign residents. He commented, “it is really important to put out information in several languages to help us remove language barriers and fight this social scourge which does not discriminate between nationalities.”
Councillor for Equality, Mari Carmen Carmona, added, “these meetings go one step further in facilitating communication between the council and foreign residents when there are cases of domestic abuse.” She explained the meeting had discussed helping women by providing food stamps of care packages. She commented, “we are here to help women who are going through this situation and protect victims when they take the first step of reporting the incident so they feel looked after by the council and the community.”
The initiative is part of a series of schemes by Mijas Council to reduce levels of violence and inequality in the municipality after it last month held its first diversity conference to support the LGTBI community.
The event, which aimed to “move forward in terms of diversity,” brought together groups from across the province and Andalucia to learn how public bodies should deal with LGTBI people.
Mari Carmen Carmona, Councillor for Equality, explained, “the main objective of the department is to draw attention to those people who suffer hate crimes because they have a different sexual orientation or because they were born with a gender that does not belong to them.”
The same council also organised an event to teach local police about dealing with hate crimes. The course was designed to “improve the knowledge and treatment of people who suffer from these types of crimes and teach the state security forces how to deal with them,” according to the council.
The mayor for Equality, Mari Carmen Carmona explained the initiative, which is particularly aimed at crimes against the LGTBIQ community, was created in collaboration with the Andalucian Rainbow Federation, whose president, Gonzalo Serrano, was in charge of teaching the classes.
Councillor Carmona explained, “it is essential to train police or state security forces, as they see hate crimes and discrimination, which is what we will focus on. The Department of Equality is placing special emphasis on the LGTBIQ community because it is most affected by these cases.”
The course taught officers to identify hate crime, learn about which laws regulate these crimes, famous cases, and how to deal with the situation. Gonzalo Serrano explained, “society has changed over the years, and it is much more respectful but it is true that there are still some people who are not. We need to learn to treat people according to how they identify, not what their birth certificate says, because transsexuals feel a particular gender and there are protocols for that we have to follow.”
Mijas Council also aims to create a database revealing the statistics of hate crimes in the municipality. Councillor Carmona explained, “we want to know how to act in every situation and for that we need to know how many cases we have in Mijas, and thus improve.”
The council points out most victims of hate crimes for not report the offence for fear the police will not help. It explained it hopes the course will allow this perception to change.