What price suffering?

Women in Andalucia who were abused for political reasons during the Franco regime will be the first in Spain to be awarded a one-time compensation payment of €1,800.

This move was announced by the Minister of Justice and Public Administration, Begoña Álvarez, on the occasion yesterday of International Women’s Day.

The Minister justified the initiative based on the fact that of the 2,742 compensation claims so far received under the application of the Law of Historical Memory, only 5 have been from women. The decree covers any abuse, ridicule or humiliation, admissible under law, suffered by women during the dictatorship.

It is recognised that the suffering of women was different to that suffered by the menfolk, who were often imprisoned or shot, but was in many cases no less repressive. Many suffered as they watched family members starved to death or even executed, and suffered various forms of humiliation at the hands of the regime. In severe cases, women were imprisoned or raped by the oppressive regime.

More often than not, however, women suffered not by being imprisoned, but by seeing their children taken away or harmed.

It is thought that few women will actually benefit from the new decree, given the time span involved, and it is being seen more as a tribute to the women of Andalucia.

Placing a monetary value on suffering is not easy and is maybe not the best form of ‘tribute’, a question for debate. When one considers, for example, that for having a baby there is a ‘baby cheque’ of €2,500 and a man who stubs his toe is awarded umpteen thousand, €1,800 seems less than a ‘tribute’ to someone who maybe lost their entire family.

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