SURT launches the first training for professionals as part of the WeGo!2 Project
In the Spanish and Catalan legal framework against gender‐based violence1, survivors of intimate partner violence are right holders and, as such, they are entitled to receiving a variety of State benefits to facilitate their personal and economic empowerment. Survivors’ economic rights include access to protected housing, personalised training and counselling to access the labour market, and economic benefits that cover women’s subsistence while they look for a job.
But are these rights effectively guaranteed in practice, for all women? Which strategies should professionals to promote that all survivors have effective access to economic rights?
In the framework of the project, Fundació SURT organised in July 2019 a working group, gathering professionals of SURT’S anti‐violence support service (SIARE) and shelter SIRGA. The objective of the group was to build common frameworks and effective strategies to promote the access to rights of survivors of intimate partner violence.
What do we mean by economic independence?
Questioning the victim stereotype while demystifying the superwoman
One of the main barriers to the implementation of this rights‐based framework is that often anti‐ violence services operate on the basis of two contradictory narratives.
First, to claim their rights, women must provide evidence that they are suffering intimate partner violence, mainly through the existence of a protection order2. This implies that they are labelled as victims, a stereotype that still pervades. A victim is seen as a super‐dependent woman, unable to move forward with her life. In many cases, women may be treated as if they were weak and defenceless, depriving them of their agency and limiting their paths towards effective autonomy.
On the other hand, the concept of autonomy itself is stereotyped. Often services supporting survivors’ (re)integration into the labour market set full economic independence as an ideal objective, as if people were super‐independent self‐sufficient beings that never rely on others or need their support. This stereotype makes collective strategies invisible. For example, building women’s networks could facilitate the paths towards economic autonomy, but this is not taken into account.
These two categories are extremely stereotyped and contradictory, and from a feminist perspective, it is important to break this illogical polarization and focus on empowering women in the individual dimension but also in the social and community dimension.
Professionals in the working group highlighted the importance of creating solidarity and symbolic ties among women, especially when speaking about autonomy: instead of building a path where a woman can walk alone, it is important to building this path collaboratively, establishing collaborative autonomies – in plural ‐ , where women can walk together.
The need to question the concept of economic independence was only one of the issues raised by the working group gathered by Fundació Surt with the support of WeGo!2. The group will remain as an ongoing project, with the conviction that all women should have their economic rights guaranteed and that access to those economic rights is a fundamental step in the recovery from intimate partner violence.
1 - Organic Law 1/2004 of 28th December, on Comprehensive Protection Measures against Gender‐based Violence (Spanish Law against intimate partner violence); Law 5/2008, of 24th April, on the right of women to eradicate sexist violence (Catalan Law against violence against women).
2 - More recently, other routes have been opened to access such rights, such as reports by social services, though the effectiveness of the implementation of this measure remains to be seen.