Sibora's body was found hidden in a wall in a flat in Torremolinos. SUR
A black year for violence against women
2023: a year in the news

A black year for violence against women

Crime and emergencies ·

While cybercrime is significantly up this year, 2023 has been a year with shocking cases of gender-based violence and sex crime figures. Covid-19 is no longer a health emergency

Karl Smallman


Friday, 29 December 2023


Theft and internet scams were the two most reported crimes in Malaga province's largest municipalities during the first part of 2023 the data shows. In just three months, between January and March, some 5,667 thefts were recorded in the province – that is an average of if 63 per day - while 3,959 internet scams were reported, 43 per day.

Across the Andalucía region a 10% increase in the crime rate during the first quarter of 2023 was reported compared to the previous year, according to the data from the national Ministry of the Interior.

One of the most shocking rises was that related to kidnappings, often involving a settling of scores between crime gang, which has seen an increase of 300%. The data also showed that homicides and murder cases have also risen by 57.1% in Malaga province, compared to the 15.8% reported in Andalucía.

Sex crimes

A rape is reported every two days in Malaga province

Crimes of a sexual nature rose 22.5% in the first part of 2023 compared to last year. Of these sexual assault with penetration increased by 7.6%.

A rape is reported every two days in Malaga as cases of sexual assault increase in the province, worrying new figures show. Police recorded 127 cases between January and September this year in Malaga province, almost quadrupling in the past five years, according to the latest crime statistics. In five years, rapes have increased by 273.5% compared to the 34 recorded in the first nine months of 2019.

Assaults involving sexual penetration are part of a wider group of sexual offences such as abuse or touching, sexual harassment, prostitution, sexual exploitation and assaults against minors.

When considering all these sexual offences together, the numbers are even higher. A total of 572 reports were filed from January to September, an average of two per day. It is a 35.8% increase compared to the 421 complaints in the same period in 2019, according to the figures.

Spain’s ministry of the interior attributed the rise in cases to extra police work to catch offenders and a greater willingness to report crimes.

Sexual offences perpetrated by minors are also on the rise, Malaga Public Prosecutor's Office warned in its last report.

This has been caused by "excessive use" of social media among adolescents and, "in particular, pornographic content", it added. Spokesperson for equality and gender perspective of the Official College of Psychology of Eastern Andalucía José Antonio García said this has a lot to do with a lack of sexual education and increasingly early exposure to pornography.

Gender-based violence

The shocking cases of Natalia, Paula and Sibora

Natalia's headless body was found on the beach in Marbella.
Natalia's headless body was found on the beach in Marbella. SUR

2023 was ‘a very black year’ for gender violence in Andalucía, with an alarming increase in the number of reports. A total of 9,726 female victims were registered in the eight provinces that make up the region between April and June and 10,233 reports were filed, signifying an increase of 8.6%.

Speaking ahead of 25 November, the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Junta’s representative for social inclusion, youth, families and equality, Loles López, expressed her concern at the increase in cases of gender-based violence, which this year have claimed the lives of 17 women in Andalucía, with the latest victim, Paqui, 52, in Benalmádena in October.

Paqui, who worked as a cleaner at Sunset Beach Club hotel, is believed to have been killed by her husband before he then took his life in the family home on the Costa del Sol.

During the year, there were several other high-profile cases in Malaga province including that of Natalia, murdered by her ex-boyfriend and whose headless corpse was found floating in the water by Cañas de Marbella in January; and Paula, a 28-year-old stabbed to death on 17 May in La Carihuela, Torremolinos.

While Paula’s ex-boyfriend, the Italian man Marco G was been escorted down a police station corridor while being interviewed he made the shocking confession that he had killed another woman when he saw her ‘missing’ poster on the wall.

Sibora Gagani was the young Italian-Albanian woman who had not been seen since July 2014 after sharing a house with Marco G when she was just 22 years old.

Police carried out several searches of a house in Torremolinos where the alleged killer said he had hidden her body and eventually, with the help of X-ray technology, her corpse was found in chipboard box concealed behind a false wall. There was also a knife and dried blood on it.


122 tonnes of substances and 4,416 arrests

In December, the National Police and Guardia Civil revealed they had seized 122 tonnes of drugs in Malaga so far this year, some 34.8% more than in 2022.

A total of 4,416 people were arrested for crimes related to drug trafficking in 2023. Hashish, cocaine and marijuana were the main narcotic substances seized by both forces.

The National Police’s serious crime squad also dismantled 65 drug gangs and recovered 2.62 million euros in cash during the course of the year.


New firefighting resources during high-risk period in Andalucía

Malaga province has closed the year with less than half the number of wildfires recorded in 2022. Despite some record summer temperatures and the lack of rain which led to severely parched ground, there were just ten serious wildfires recorded in Malaga province during the period between 1 January and 15 December.

Of the 96 Plan Infoca forest fire brigade actions recorded, ten were serious fires and 86 were minor outbreaks, compared to the 24 serious fires during 2022. The burned area is 3% of that affected the previous year, with 199.92 hectares of forest (4.51 hectares of trees and 195.41 hectares of scrub), compared to 6,186 hectares (4,271 hectares of trees and 1,914 hectares of scrub) of 2022.

The fire in Valtocado, Mijas, in November.
The fire in Valtocado, Mijas, in November. Salvador Salas

Although the season considered the high-risk fire period ended on 15 October, the worst fire in the province broke out on 12 November, in the Valtocado area of the municipality of Mijas, when a Level 1 plan (risk to property and life) was activated.

At the height of the blaze, which started in the early hours of the morning, some 300 local residents were evacuated from their homes as a precautionary measure. A total of 250 hectares of land were scorched and one property totally destroyed - along with a few others partially damaged. A total of six aircraft, 180 professionals and eight fire engines from Plan Infoca, as well as regular fire crews from Mijas, Benalmádena, Marbella, Fuengirola and Malaga finally smothered the flames.

This year, at a regional level, Plan Infoca added more air resources, 17 new fire engines and a ground drone was added to the fire-fighting armoury - the first in Spain and capable of entering the fire to carry out certain extinction actions without putting the lives of personnel at risk.

Another new tool that has been made available is the possibility to use the EsAlert or 'reverse 112' system, which allows mass messages (in Spanish and English) to be sent directly to the mobile phones of the people affected by a serious incident that requires a measure such as confinement or evacuation from the area.


An end to the Covid nightmare

More than three years after the new Covid-19 coronavirus brought the world to a standstill, on 4 August the Junta de Andalucía agreed to end all special Covid measures.

This followed the World Health Organization's declaration of an end to Covid-19 as a global health emergency earlier this year. It was in February this year that Spain finally removed the obligation to wear a face mask on public transport.

In July the national government declared an end to the health crisis and face masks were no local mandatory in health centres, hospitals and pharmacies.

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