Both French, Jocelyne and her daughter Eva cannot leave Spain under penalty of legal proceedings. A situation that affects dozens of women around the world.
With drawn features, but red lips, Jocelyne is a fighter at the end of her strength. “I’m afraid of breaking down,” she confides, with tears in her eyes, in a Barcelona café where a friend accompanied her. Separated for three years from Eva’s father, also French, she recounts psychological violence which has never stopped. Mother and daughter suffer threats, harassment and humiliation from their ex-husband, without really knowing what to do. The schoolgirl is no longer interested in school, her grades are plummeting and she becomes insomniac. Finally, it was she who filed a complaint at the beginning of the year to “be protected from her father”.
Supported by a court specializing in violence against women, Jocelyne regains hope. She obtains exclusive temporary custody, but which comes accompanied by a ban on Eva leaving the territory, at least until the final decision. A harsh surprise for Jocelyne, who does not understand how Spain can prevent them from returning to their country. And yet, even if she obtains final custody, the father can keep his parental rights and she will need his agreement for any decision concerning Eva’s health, her education and leaving the country until she turns 18. Jocelyne is devastated. She who loved this city so much is now living a nightmare there. “We are stuck here, Barcelona has become our prison.”
Because if the whole family is French, it is Spanish justice that decides. And blocking foreign nationals, “that doesn’t bother any state in the world,” explains Laure Carchon-Veyrier of Mots et Maux de femmes. Each month, the association supports around forty expatriate women who are victims of domestic and intra-family violence, and Jocelyne’s case is far from unique. “Even after separation, the violence continues, and it is often duplicated, with the child completely instrumentalized at the center.” Detention on territory is a classic and can last for years, the volunteer explains to us.
Returning to France, a crime for Spanish justice
So of course, like many women before her, she thought about fleeing, convinced that she would be protected by her country. Very bad idea, warned Laure Carchon-Veyrier, the Spanish associations helping victims of violence and even the French gendarmerie, which she contacted. “She would be prosecuted for kidnapping and would risk prison,” confirms criminal lawyer Javier Madrid. There is also no question of finding help from the Consulate or the Embassy of France in Spain. “When there are judgments in progress, French diplomacy cannot take sides,” explains the spokesperson for Mots et Maux de femmes.
960px Ciutat de la Justicia BCN i Hosp 1 “We are still in Europe and we cannot move freely or return to our country? “, this exhausted mother protests several times. Fortunately, she was able to count on the support of a few Barcelona friends and several associations, like Laure’s, which allow “to have someone to talk to without feeling guilty about always talking about it to those close to you.” An essential process according to the volunteer. “Until a few months ago, she was not aware of the extent of the control and the violence she suffered, but by identifying all this violence, she was able to add it to the legal file.”
But by throwing herself body and soul into this battle, Jocelyne also lost all her savings, ruined by legal costs, lawyers and countless sworn translations. “Psychological violence is very difficult to demonstrate, especially when we are not Spanish and we have to translate all the written evidence of verbal violence, the translations no longer have the same force and it is taken less seriously, and above all it is very expensive “. At each stage, the elegant forty-year-old from Pedralbes feels like she has to fight twice as hard as the others because she is a foreigner. But for her daughter, she will knock on all doors, exhaust all possible recourses. “I see her failing at school, she only thinks about that, it’s eating away at her, I can’t stay without doing anything.” Taking advantage of new threats received, his lawyers will request express authorization to leave the territory. A process that could require months of waiting, with no assurance of success.
This article is originally published on equinoxmagazine.fr