It is still an open space with bare walls, although very soon it will be the first Barnahus, or childhood home in Icelandic, in the Basque Country. It is a pilot project to care for minors who are victims of sexual violence that the Basque Government hopes to apply in the coming months.
The premises are located in a residential area, far from police stations, hospitals or courts, and when it is finished it aims to be a "welcoming, harmonious, safe and friendly" place. In addition to an adapted decoration, a team of professionals specialized in child victimology will also work here, accustomed to using a language adapted to children and adolescents.
Currently, in the Basque Country there are more than 600 care points for victims of child sexual violence.
When the Barnahus project comes into operation, however, all the proceedings will be concentrated under one roof, which will also be a less hostile place for minors thanks to its adapted decoration. Victims will only have to tell their story to a forensic team once, and they will do so in one of the age-appropriate interview rooms. Thanks to one-way mirrors, judges, prosecutors, investigators or lawyers will be able to attend the statement without the minor being aware of her presence. This is how you get, they explain from the council, a complete testimony that, in addition, will be considered pre-constituted evidence and therefore, will have all the procedural guarantees.
"The objective is to offer the victims and their families comprehensive care," explained the Minister of Equality, Justice and Social Policies, Beatriz Artolazabal in an act with the media. If the court considers it, the victim will not even have to attend the court hearing. Therefore, subjecting him to "revictimization" is avoided.
With the implementation of these spaces, it is also intended to put an end to one of the main difficulties involved in cases of sexual abuse of minors. The difficulty in collecting evidence means that on numerous occasions they are closed without a conviction. However, as explained by the Ministry, in countries where the Barnahus system is already applied, it has been possible to "double and even triple" the number of convictions.