Tuesday, May 18

Lawyers for equality in Alicante

The president of the group, Elena Reig, in the center of the image surrounded by the current board and some of her predecessors in office.  |  RAFA ARJONES

The president of the group, Elena Reig, in the center of the image surrounded by the current board and some of her predecessors in office. | RAFA ARJONES

After 23 years of work in favor of equality and the eradication of any type of violence against women, the Association of Women Lawyers of Alicante has received this weekend, at the gates of 8M, the award for Equality from the General Council of Spanish Lawyers. An award that has been given this year for the first time and that they have shared with the Association of Women Lawyers of Valladolid (the first to be created in Spain) and the jailed Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Since its creation in 1998, Emilia Caballero, Concepción Collado, María García Olcina and finally Elena Reig, the current president, have been at the forefront of the Alicante group and who was the one who collected the award this Friday. “We could not imagine it,” Reig assures this newspaper, “it has been an immense joy and a source of pride because it is a recognition of our work.” The board of the college presented the candidacy and the surprise came to learn that it had been granted.

Committed to feminism, the group was a pioneer in the creation of a duty shift that would provide free legal assistance to victims of the sexist violence. Alicante was also a pioneer, albeit experimentally, in setting up the first specialized abuse court before Zapatero’s comprehensive law against gender violence came into force.

Another of the most important facets of the group has been the training of the legal operators involved in the fight against sexist violence, especially in the legal profession, “because it is essential for our work with victims that we are properly trained and sensitized on the matter and from a gender perspective, leaving behind stereotypes and patriarchal prejudices that still persist in society and therefore in the field of justice ”, Reig emphasizes. This training was extended in 2004 to the Security Forces. “It must be extended to all groups directly and indirectly related to gender violence and the Security forces are one of them. Their work is essential as, in most cases, they are the first to assist the victims. They have also taught courses between the health sector and the local administration.

It was an initiative of the Association to call the assembly by which the change of name of what until now had been the Illustrious College of Lawyers of Alicante, renamed the Bar Association, was approved. «It seemed to us that a necessary change to adapt the school to the new reality. The old name did not correspond to the current moment, where women lawyers make up more than 50% of the collective “, explains Reig, adding that” it is necessary to normalize inclusive language in the legal profession to give visibility to the presence of women women, ignored for many years. For this reason, he has no doubt that the college will soon be able to count on its first dean: “There are lawyers with excellent careers and the ability to brilliantly assume this task. They just need to cheer up.

Negative effect of the pandemic

For the president of the Association, the Legal Profession is a reflection of society and gender bias exists as in any other profession where the masculine continues to be the predominant element. «Only 13% of the lawyers are partners in the law firms. The wage gap also persists. Lawyers earn 20% less than lawyers. Although there is progress, we lawyers continue to take on, in a preferential way, the tasks of caring for the family to the detriment of our professional activity, “she laments.

And in times of pandemic, it considers that women are being the hardest hit since, for the most part, they work in essential services and therefore are more exposed to the virus. On the other hand, women are suffering with greater intensity the destruction of employment and the wage gap it has been exacerbated by the crisis. All this without forgetting the problem of gender-based violence, where «confinement has meant for women and their minor children, an increase in their situation of risk as they are deprived of the possibility of asking for help and, for the abusers, the the ideal place to continue controlling, abusing and attacking the victims, “he warns.


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