Animals are as victimised by gender violence as women are, a doctor has claimed.
Refusing to make a distinction between “human animals” and “non-human animals”, Dr Núria Querol said woman and pets were both equally victims of male aggression.
In an interview with Catalan daily El Periódico, Dr Querol, who is International Coordinator of the group Viopet, said men can be guilty of “sexual aggression” towards animals as well as psychological abuse.
“Since I was four or five years old I haven’t made any distinction between human and non-human animals,” she said.
“One of my mentors, Dr Frank Ascione of the University of Denver, began describing the instrumentalisation of animals in domestic violence. I decided to take action.
“When I’m speaking to a patient and I suspect violence, I always ask her about her pets. She usually either responds “no” or “how did you know?”
As an example, she speaks of men who exhibit “sexual aggression towards an animal in front of the woman and children”.
“It’s a very perverse form of abuse,” she adds, “because the woman and children feel complicit”.
Dr Querol says her group wants to focus not only on physical violence towards pets but also psychological abuse, something which is already illegal under Catalan law.
“The animals suffer fear and anxiety, pee uncontrollably and tremble in the presence of a masculine figure,” she said.
“Studies in the United States show between 71 and 86 per cent of women who are victims of violence speak of cases of violence towards animals.”
As another example of masculine violence towards animals she cites the online sexual fetish of “crushing”, which involves “squashing small animals with the heel of a shoe and then putting a video of it on the internet”.
Spanish news site La Gaceta says Dr Querol’s words have been welcomed by the far-left party Podemos, which is currently the country’s third largest political bloc.
The party’s feminist group posted a link to the interview on Twitter, commenting: “Chauvinist violence damages everyone”.