New law aims to tame culture of macho iberico
8 April 2005
MADRID- Spanish men will have to learn to change nappies and don washing-up gloves under the terms of a new law designed to strike a blow at centuries of Latin machismo.
The law, due to be passed this month, is likely to provoke a revolution in family affairs in a country where 40 percent of men reportedly do no housework at all, the British daily The Guardian reports.
It will oblige men to “share domestic responsibilities and the care and attention” of children and elderly family members, according to the draft approved by the Spanish parliament’s justice commission.
This will become part of the marriage contract at civil wedding ceremonies later this year.
“The idea of equality within marriage always stumbles over the problem of work in the house and caring for dependent people,” said Margarita Uría, of the Basque Nationalist party, who was behind this amendment to a new divorce law.
“This will be a good way of reminding people what their duties are. It is something feminists have been wanting for a long time.”
Failure to meet the obligations will be taken into consideration by judges when determining the terms of divorces.
Men who refuse to do their part may be given less frequent contact with their children.
Spanish women spend five times longer on housework than their husbands. Even where both have jobs outside the home, Spanish women still do three times as much work in the house.
“It is not just about housework, though. Women also end up doing most of the caring for the elderly,” said Uría.
A study five years ago by Spain’s Centre for Sociological Investigation concluded that fathers spent an average of 13 minutes each day looking after their children.
Only 19 percent of Spanish men thought it was right for mothers of school age children to have a full-time job.
More than a third thought mothers should not work outside the home at all.
The change to the Spanish legal code will see domestic obligations added to a list of marital duties that currently includes fidelity, living together and helping one another.
The initiative has received the backing of all Spain’s political parties, including those of a conservative or traditionally Catholic bent.
Uría said that the Socialists, who run Spain’s minority government and voted against the clause when the draft went through the commission, had told her that they, too, were now in favour of it.
That should guarantee that, when the law – which will also make divorce proceedings faster and easier – is voted on in parliament in the next few weeks, the obligation to share domestic chores will be added to the statute books.
Subject: Spanish news