Spanish experts demand better gender-equality training for the police

Nov 29, 2010
Sexism conditions attitudes in police intervention. Credit: Irene Cuesta/ SINC

According to a new study by the University of Valencia (UV, Spain), "it is necessary to raise the awareness and level of training of the police in the area of violence against women". Researchers analysed the influence of sexism and empathy in more than 400 recently-hired local police.

Sexism conditions in police intervention. "As expected, those who scored as more sexist are those who believe that they should only intervene in cases of gender-based violence when the victim is willing to press charges", explains Marisol Lila, main author of this study and researcher at the Universidad de Valencia.

The study, published in the latest issue of the Revista de Psicología Social was based on a questionnaire given to 409 newly-hired local police officers as they joined the Police Force. They were asked how they would react in different hypothetical situations of violence against women.

In each scenario, the police officers could respond if "they would intervene only if the victim is willing to press charges" or if "they would intervene independent of the victim's intention to press charges," the researcher explains. Of the total number of police officers, who were between 21 and 48 years old, 81.9% were men and 18.1% were women.

"Hostile" and "benevolent" sexism

The experts distinguish between two types of ambivalent sexism: "Hostile" sexism, which considers women to be inferior, and "benevolent" sexism (the most common type), which defines women as weaker and in need of the protection of men.

"One possible explanation for these results between the police officers who show benevolent sexism could be due to a higher tolerance for domestic violence against women because they consider the reason women do not want to press charges is that the aggression `wasn't that serious´, or because ´she really wants to be with him'", the study claims.

"The response of the officer in cases of domestic violence against brings with it an implicit message that symbolizes society's condemnation of this type of ", suggests the expert.

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More information: Marisol Lila, Enrique Gracia y Fernando García. "Actitudes de la policía ante la intervención en casos de violencia contra la mujer en las relaciones de pareja: influencia del sexismo y la empatía", Revista de Psicología Social, 2010, 25 (3), 313-323.

Provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

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Corban
not rated yet Nov 29, 2010
Strange. Wouldn't this police attitude actually be more CONSIDERATE of the women's attitudes? The alternative is for the police to just handcuff everyone involved, irregardless of what the DV incident was about.

In game theory terms, the only optimal choice for police is to consistently favor women under this system...which may be the entire point. I would object to any system that points to this though.
denijane
not rated yet Dec 19, 2010
If the police sees a fight on the street, it will arrest everyone involved or arrest the aggressors and take the victims to the police station for explanations. And they won't ask the victims whether they want to press charges BEFORE intervening.
There is no reason why with domestic violence it should be different. The police is supposed first to intervene, then to ask. Everything else is sexism.