Women's rights shoots to the top of the electoral campaign agenda
Left-wing parties respond to comments by conservative candidate seen as playing down importance of gender violence
The issue of women's rights rose to the top of the electoral campaign agenda on Thursday, after the conservative PP party candidate in Catalonia called for an end to "exploiting women's pain," and insisting that "there is no ideology behind gender violence."
Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo recently caused a stir when, during a debate, she questioned plans by the Socialists to introduce a law that will make a sexual act a crime unless a woman gives explicit consent. "Do you really say 'yes, yes, yes' until the end?" she asked.
During a breakfast event on Thursday, Álvarez de Toledo said "there is no male organization devoted to killing women," but added that there was a group that killed "Spaniards just because they were Spaniards," in reference to the Basque terrorist group, ETA.
Her comments drew a rapid response from the Socialist candidate in Catalonia, Meritxell Batet, who said "it's a fact" that women are "less safe" than men and added that "denying this reality or trivializing it is greatly irresponsible from someone who aspires to govern."
Pro-independence leader speaks from exile
Meanwhile, the secretary general of the pro-independence Esquerra (ERC) party, Marta Rovira, called on women to get more involved in politics and to take a greater part in "decision making" rather than just being "spectators."
In a video from Switzerland, where she sought refuge from the Spanish judiciary after the 2017 independence bid, Rovira called for the "blight" of gender violence to be eradicated and for a reversal in the "setback" in social rights that has led to a loss of jobs among women.