Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Spain

Organisation: Desprotegides, Fundació puntCAT

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 7 Jul 2019

Credit: Karma Peiró, Xaquín G.V., Rocío Minvielle

Project description:

Our report revealed that despite having one of the most progressive legislations to eradicate sexist violence, authorities leave women in Catalonia unprotected in many cases. Among other things:
• The legislation was born with less than half of the estimated economic resources it needed.
• The government’s data fails to detect the real dimension of violence against women.
• Catalan courts grant the least number of restraining orders compared to the rest of Spain.
• Public policy evaluations highlight a large amount of women who do not go to social services, despite a well-distributed network of centers.

Impact reached:

We held a press conference for the official launch project, after which the documentary appeared in all major news outlets in the region. Because the authors produced it as a public service, with a grant by the puntCAT foundation, and were not seeking any distribution deals, a few outlets adopted it as a permanent link on their homepage for months.

Activist organizations reached out to share the webdoc on their networks and organized events and talks around it —eight events so far, in the six months since launch. We have produced a traditional documentary to be shown at these events, and as an alternative resource for these organizations.

The agency responsible for Transparency is working on addressing some of the issues raised in our report, especially those related to the data collection and budget tracking.

One of the main characters in our documentary, Nuria Balada, who was president of the Catalan Women’s Institute —the interdepartmental government agency in charge of suggesting and implementing gender-focused policies— left her post two months later. Despite her long trajectory and influence in shaping the implementation of the ten-year-old Catalan law, she had been widely criticized for some of the issues the administration faces which she admitted to in our documentary.

Finally, we are turning the project into a wider campaign. We are collaborating with some of the main feminist organizations to perform data-driven stunts in the March and November demonstrations (International Women’s Day and International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women).

Techniques/technologies used:

We compiled and harmonized data from police, courts, hospitals, and public census data, mapping them to a common model. The estimates we used throughout the report were based on the 2016 Catalan survey —a sample of 10,000 for a universe of about 3.5 million.

Since the government budget doesn’t classify when an investment is linked to the program to combat and prevent violence against women, we requested that breakdown through the Transparency Law to various departments and, after some extensions, we received a breakdown by department and a collection of reports that had previously been released — and that were already in our cache of sources. The criteria used for it were different from those in other partial budget breakdowns.

For the second map on the scrollytelling graphic, we retrieved the areas within a 30-minute drive from every one of the 100 and some Women’s Support and Information Center (SIADs) using Mapbox’s Isochrone API. We then merged them and used the result to clip a raster dataset with population density (with the number of people per cell) to estimate the population within range of one of these centers.

We used R and RStudio to transform and organized the data. QGIS, mapshaper, topo2geo, and other command-line mapping tools to do the cartographic analysis. The charts in the report were produced using d3.

We also filmed interviews with experts and spoke to more than a dozen others to understand the network of professionals involved in cases of violence against women.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Between 2017 and 2018, Karma Peiró had been involved in project #Cuéntalo, which recorded the stories of thousands of women speaking out about their personal experiences with violence in 140 characters.

These were powerful personal dramas, what was the government doing to address violence against women?

We did not want to just highlight the hardship of a specific moment or event. Our intention was to hold the authorities accountable: the hardest part was showing that despite great efforts and advances in eradicating violence against women, there is much left to do.

It is a complex issue and there is a massive dissonance between what the victims perceive and what the authorities do to respond to it. We interviewed Raquel who was almost killed by her ex-partner. We are especially thankful to her for retelling her story and doing so in front of a camera. She now works helping women going through the same situation.

After it was published, public evaluators, activists, and policy-makers reached out to speak about how the report captured a lot of the nuance often missed in media reports about gender violence.

What can others learn from this project?

We published our methodology and our data on a public repository, in the hopes news outlets use it in the future. We have spoken about the challenges and findings in the documentary to journalism students and we have been invited by feminist organizations to events around gender violence.

We hope media outlets adopt a more nuanced approach to reporting violence against women and expand their understanding of what constitutes that type of violence. Violence against women is not sufficiently visible. For example, women report tens of thousands of incidents of sexual abuse each year, but that does not show the real dimension —70% of the most serious events are not reported. Additionally, media outlets tend to report only on homicides, less than a dozen a year in Catalonia, while estimates show that about 75,000 women have suffered attacks last year alone.

The data, the voices, and the format may also serve as a template for government accountability on the issue.

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