The spectre of totalitarianism, or “Protection” for children and women

19.09.2018, Warsaw.

Spain left dictatorship behind long ago, but its seeds are sprouting through under full-fledged “democracy”. Genuine institutional violence against women has become a widespread practice, with a certain stereotype again being forced through the judiciary system, the state apparatus, and though social services, using false and manipulative reports in absolutely inhumane trials.

The Patronage of Women’s Protection (Patronato de Protección a la Mujer), a kind of Spanish GESTAPO, was established in 1902 and existed until 1985, well into the time of democracy. The Patronage was supposed to “watch over” and “protect” young women 16 to 25 years old by locking them up in reformatories with regimentation almost like that of a prison, in order to indoctrinate them, and if they were pregnant, to steal their babies; 300,000 babies were kidnapped during Franco’s regime. The Patronage’s religious congregations, which had been sponsored by Franco’s regime, are engaged in managing the centers for seized minors to this very day.

The Patronage’s functions were legally delegated in to autonomous administrations in 1985, and they again are directed against women and children.

Act 1/1996 on the protection of minors, which empowers public administrations and social services to decide who is “a good mother” and who is not, says in its preamble that it does so in accordance with international conventions that Spain has signed, especially the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Rights, which the legal system is to guarantee without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of nationality, race, gender, disability or illness, religion, language, culture, personal opinion, social origin or any other personal, family, or social circumstances.

Act 1/1996 on minors’ protection introduces the ambiguous term “abandonment” and establishes the responsibility of government agencies to investigate any reported facts in order to correct the situation through intervention by social services’, or if needed, by taking legal guardianship over the minor. Similarly, the Act obligates anyone who discovers an at-risk situation or a minor’s possible helplessness to assist immediately and to inform the nearest government agency or officials. This has facilitated reporting with the aim of revenge, such as in family conflicts, or to serve personal interests, which are recorded in social services’ reports automatically as trustworthy, without carrying out the necessary inquiries.

Since then the administration of any autonomous, through their “technicians”, can administratively decide to remove a child from his or her birth family under unclear and ambiguous criteria, which only create the possibility for all sorts of abuse of power. This is the so-called resolution on abandonment, which is implemented automatically.

Since this law has come into force, allowing for the violation of fundamental human rights, the number of minors being kidnapped by government administrations has become quite alarming. The lack of legal protection that Franco’s regime created had against women, has after 1985 once again started looming over women, whose only crime is to be born a woman and to want to be a mother.

Children are taken away from their mother’s arms by police officers, who arrive by tens, kicking out doors in their homes, as if these women were terrorists. While talking about gender equality, an incredible violation of rights is taking place against women who want to have a family and children. This right is an inherent human right established by nature. This takes place every day all over Spain. According to recent official data published since 2015, more than 42,000 children have been taken away from their mothers. In the 21st Century, some technician from the administration dictates and implements the separation of a mother from her child, using fake arguments that are manipulated according to the will of people whose power is only based on the fact that they passed a test to become a bureaucrat. Mothers have very few, if any, ways to protect themselves, while the right to legal defense is fundamental in any state governed by the rule of law.

Children are becoming a means of profit-making; from three to nine thousand Euro is granted monthly for every child under guardianship. However, this money is not invested in the child; instead, it is transferred to private funds and NGOs that run centers for minors, often with an ambiguous or sectarian background, often feeding the children from charity sources with expired food donated by the army or supermarkets.

There is no rule of law for Spanish women. Children are taken from their mothers’ arms, often to be placed under the guardianship of a person with convictions for gender violence and child sexual abuse.

When a child is separated from the mother unilaterally, in the majority of such cases all contacts between them are broken; the mother is deprived of any legal and natural parental rights, and she will not have any rights for legal defense or administration of justice. The child is put in conditions worse than those of prisoners, for he or she is left without a connection to his or her mother and without any vital guidance for several months and even years, while the “model” that the administration guards states that this is done “in the child’s best interests”. This phrase about “the child’s best interests” is continuously being repeated, but its real meaning is the interests and desires of those adults who protect this seemingly new “model”, which in fact creates a situation of Spain’s regress to its bitter recent past, i.e. to dictatorship and human rights violations. This parallel is especially clearly seen in Spain, where the memory is still alive, and the institutions operating today are direct successors of the previous totalitarian ones.

The bullet-points and sections in the psychosocial questionnaires are nothing more than a methodological trap, crafted for indicting the parents and for justifying the seizure of their children. Visits from social multidisciplinary task forces to families are very well structured, and they are based on so-called “working plans”, or social or therapeutic interventions, in which they teach “how one is to be a good mother” after a mother’s alleged failure which they themselves diagnose. In these “diagnoses”, epithets such as “bad mother”, “dysfunctional family”, “lack of parenting skills”, or “instrumentalization” are used. These qualifiers are convincing only in their own paper reports.

The power of social services seems indisputable; humiliating court trials and an insulting attitude, which mainly directed at single mothers who are separated from their children, are inhumanely cruel. Women are called mentally unstable while inventing nonexistent syndromes; they are given ambiguous social labels such as having a personality disorder; they are labelled with all kinds of moral judgements that do not stand any kind of criticism: for their appearance, dress, or mood. They are diagnosed with morbid anxiety, Munchausen’s syndrome, confusion, and many other false diagnoses.

They come to women’s homes and start to open closets and refrigerators, to inspecting the subjective “neatness” and “tidiness”. They come to schools and pull children out from classes in front of their classmates and teachers by power of their authority. A lonely and helpless woman is getting lost in this institutional maze, which interprets the moral climate as sees fit, and which has been lying officially from the very beginning. The violation of Spanish women’s rights leads them into a confusing court system, which allows for so-called judicial “seizure”, when a woman reports violence against herself or her child; but as a result, she is forced to give up her children.

A case can go through numerous departments and offices, finally assuming a form that has nothing to do with reality, without any guarantees or presumption of innocence.

Children are also seized from families due to poverty, only to be placed into monthly paid foster families. So why then not help birth families living in poverty with getting out of their difficult situation? These verdicts, which come from officials who pride themselves so much about their position as if they were gods, destroy people’s lives every day even without a trial. In some mysterious way, the declared “gender equality”, which becomes intertwined with the interests and approaches of the forced foster care system, ends up as absolute inequality for mothers, especially for single mothers.

Child abductions have never stopped in Spain. Now, after the socialists have come to power, the Spanish government, for some reason, fails to demand an account from its own Defense Minister, who when she was in charge of the Minor Guardianship Tribunal in 1987, signed a final resolution in a newborn kidnapping case, leaving the 15 year-old mother homeless and absolutely unprotected, without any place to go, and with a postnatal infection, having told her that her child was stillborn.

However, Spain is not an exception. What we are facing is a system across Europe, which relies on groundless and false sentences on “family incompetence”. Its goal is to make our children property of the state.

From many European countries, we have been receiving reports of similar cases of abuse of power committed by children protective services, which all act in an absolutely identical manner.

In Germany, Jugendamt has seized over 628 thousand children over a period of 21 years. According to a report on the EU published by human rights activists, over the last 70 years the Norwegian Barnevern has seized almost 250,000 children, with a total of just one million children in the country. In France, over 300,000 children have been seized, and so on. This is why we are talking about a European system with an international dimension. We see everywhere that gender equality activists have become so absorbed in campaigning for women’s rights to change their gender or social role, that noone notices anymore that the right to remain a woman is now violated; moreover, it is human rights services that pose the greatest danger for mothers.



In view of the above, we urge to initiate an international discussion on the consequences that arise after a country begins to fulfill the international obligations it signed, as well as the consequences of their implementation in a national law. For Spain, an urgent reform of Act of 1/1996 on the protection of minors is recommended, which must take into consideration the voice of associations and groups that have first-hand knowledge of the suffering that is inflicted to children and mothers by such abductions. Task forces must be established with the mission of summarizing information and developing recommendations for political parties in order to make as many amendments to the laws as necessary to correct this inhumane disparity. Also, urgent protection must be provided for children through a situation assessment system, which would ensure that minors are heard on issues that affect them, and that their reports are acknowledged.

We recommend that economic aid should be provided to families in difficult economic situations, instead of paying foster parents a monthly salary. Priority must be given to allow children to stay home with their families; the priority of family integrity over all other options must be made unconditional.

It is essential that abandonment-related decisions are made by a court where family interests would be fully protected, and where the right to legal defense would be guaranteed under transparent terms and without any mediators forced by the administration, who are struggling for their morsel of power. Currently, decisions by these administrations are de facto indisputable.

Only from international forums like this can reality be brought forward before all of Europe, making sure that the most fundamental human rights are no longer violated, especially against women. Not one murdered woman! Not one mother deprived of her children!

Thank you.


This is the full text of Consuelo García del Cid Guerra’s speech at the plenary OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) that took place on September 19, 2018. Consuelo García del Cid Guerra is a human rights activists from Spain. This speech was also published in “Essence of Time” newspaper issue 298 on October 4, 2018.


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