March 7, 2019 / 6:13 PM / 6 months ago

Portugal's parliament falls silent to remember domestic violence victims

A general view of Portuguese parliament in Lisbon, Portugal, June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

LISBON (Reuters) - Buildings across Portugal flew flags at half mast and parliament held a minute of silence in honor of domestic violence victims on Thursday, a day after a 39-year-old woman was strangled to death.

The latest killing shocked the country, bringing the number of victims since the beginning of the year to 12, the highest figure in a decade, which prompted the government to declare a day of mourning.

“Sadly the number increased yesterday,” said parliament speaker Ferro Rodrigues. “It’s our obligation to do better.”

Police said a woman in north Portugal was strangled to death on Wednesday and have arrested her husband on suspicion of having killed her.

The number of murders so far this year is more than double the same period in 2018, according to the Observatory of Murdered Women, a Portuguese campaign group. In 2017, 12 murders were recorded through the whole year.

In addition to the minute of silence, held before parliament’s biweekly debate, new measures to tackle the crime have been proposed including a plan to create specialized courts to deal with domestic violence cases.

The Portuguese justice system has been heavily criticized, with activists describing it as sexist, after a court upheld in 2017 a light sentence for a woman’s attacker on the grounds that he may have been motivated by her adultery.

Reporting by Catarina Demony and Goncalo Almeida; Editing by Axel Bugge

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