Man sets partner on fire as domestic violence rages
16 February 2004 FIGUERES - Horrified bystanders looked on helplessly Monday as a man splashed his partner with a flammable liquid in a central street of Figueres, then set her on fire in the latest case of rising domestic violence which is dominating the political agenda. Both the aggressor and his victim suffered severe burns.
According to police, the assault took place around 8am. The unidentified 48-year-old man pulled up his car outside the home of the woman, 36, and she came out to get into the vehicle. But then they began arguing and he poured the liquid over the woman and set her alight.
The aggressor’s clothes also caught fire and officials said it was not immediately clear if he intended to set himself alight. Both the man and the woman suffered second and third-degree burns to between 40 and 60 percent of their bodies and were rushed by helicopter to a special burns unit at the Hospital Del Valle Hebron in Barcelona.
Witnesses said one man who was eating breakfast at a cafe raced out when he saw the couple burst into flames and tried to beat out the blaze with his jacket. But when that failed, he grabbed a fire extinguisher from his car and used it to put out the flames.
Police in the region of Catalonia where the incident occurred said the man had a record of domestic violence, was arrested in 1999 for abusing another woman and had faced at least one other similar charge.
A recent series of horrific domestic violence cases against females has shocked Spaniards, galvanized women’s groups and led to calls for more protective measures, harsher prison sentences for the perpetrators and better police handling of the victims.
Last year, 103 people across Spain died in acts of domestic violence cases in which they were killed at the hands of their spouses, partners, children or parents, a 54 percent increase over 2002, according to Interior Ministry figures. Of the fatalities in 2003, 65 of the victims were women killed by their husbands, partners or ex-boyfriends.
Spousal abuse has become a campaign issue in the run-up to the 14 March general elections in Spain. Mariano Rajoy, the ruling Popular Party candidate for the premiership, has called for zero tolerance for abusers and proposed that aggressors be forced to wear electronic bracelets which will let authorities know their whereabouts at all times.
Rajoy has said if elected he would create more police specialised in handling domestic violence cases and also ease steps for the separation and divorce of troubled couples.
“The victims of this type of violence deserve all our support and attention, must feel protected and have the opportunity to rebuild their lives,” the candidate has said.
In his comments, challenger Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of the main opposition Socialist Party has urged a reform of the justice system, more preventative measures to stem spousal abuse and blamed the problem on what he said was a culture of machismo in Spanish society which needed to be urgently addressed.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news