A Spanish author and filmmaker have joined forces to launch a crowd-funding campaign for a film on false accusations in the family courts.
Businessman and author Francisco J Lario, from Granada in southern Spain, caused a stir last year with the publication of his book La celda de los inocentes (The cell of the innocent). Now in its second edition, the book examines the plight of men accused by wives and partners of domestic violence under the Ley Integral contra la Violencia de Género (LIVG – the Integrated Law on Gender Violence).
LIVG has been highly controversial since it was first introduced back in 2003 by the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (Spanish Socialist Workers Party). The law made a distinction between ‘domestic violence’ and ‘gender violence’. The latter is supposedly motivated solely by sexism, regardless of the circumstances in which it occurred. It can only be committed by men against women and is subject to more stringent punishments.
If a woman accuses a man of gender violence, he is automatically imprisoned for a period of three days. No evidence is required. At the end of three days, a specially trained judge decides whether the man is completely innocent or a restraining order should be issued.
This occurs even if the man made the original call to the Police and the process can be repeated indefinitely, causing the man to lose his job.
If the women decides to press charges the man will lose custody of his children.
A range of benefits are open to women who make accusations of gender violence. They can claim 400 Euros (£303) a month from the state for a period of 11 months, after which they then can make a new accusation to continue receiving the payments, regardless of the substance of the previous accusation. All the costs of the legal proceedings are also paid for by state and in some areas women who make accusations are even eligible for discounted rent and university admission costs.
The LIVG has been repeatedly condemned as a breach of the Spanish Constitution but attempts to repeal it have all been unsuccessful to date. One former judge was removed from his post after complaining about the law.
La celda de los inocentes examines the repercussions of LIVG. It is based on three years of interviews with men caught up in the system, as well as with Spanish judges, police officers and lawyers, and includes legal advice for men who find themselves accused. Following publication, the book attracted strong support from police officers, with many taking photographs of themselves holding copies.
An English translation is planned but not currently available.
Lario now hopes to make a documentary on the topic with director Tomás Aceituno, to be called La celda de los innocentes – la película (‘The cell of the innocent – the movie’). At the time of writing, the crowdfunding campaign has raised 8 per cent of its 25,000 Euro (£18,968) goal.