Interview with Maria Castellano, the first Professor of Medicine, on the occasion of 8M

Berta Pinillos and Ana Soteras |

Madrid (EFE).- The first professor of medicine in Spain, María Castellano was also a pioneer in research on violence against women, when it was not a specific crime, and those years reveal the difficulty of providing justice to victims. Highlighted his ordeal and how he was discouraged from speaking out: “He felt forced to remain silent.”

Castellano, 76 years old and who holds chair number 19 at the Royal Academy of Medicine of Spain, recalls in an interview with EFE within the framework of International Women’s Day why she decided to study legal medicine a few years later Did. It is not common for a woman to do this and how throughout her career she has contributed to identifying victims of gender violence and investigating complaints.

Maria Castellano, the first professor of medicine in Spain.
María Castellano, first professor of medicine in Spain. EFE/Chema Moya

He says with fascination that Legal Medicine is a “wonderful” specialty and unknown to many because in its time it was associated with corpses, autopsies and the explanation of crimes, but that it is “all medicine that somehow may serve the courts for clarification.” Of the crime.” Of the issue.”

“It is so diverse and complete that it meets all expectations of research, human knowledge and solutions to daily life problems,” said Castellano, who says she has felt very supported in a profession dominated mostly by men. , although she admits that there have been some specific cases in which this has not happened.

Investigation into attacks on women

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And investigating attacks carried out by his colleagues on women is one of the aspects that Castellano knows well. At that time, in the 70’s and 80’s, gender violence was not talked about “at all”, it was not differentiated as something specific.

The doctor who saw a person with injuries was obliged to report it to the court, where it was investigated as a crime of causing injuries and punished depending on the severity of the injuries.

At the end of the 80s, Castellano and a fellow forensic expert from Zaragoza had already drawn attention to the number of complaints that women had towards their partners, so, they warned the courts that they would be forced to interview those women and She was ready to find out, so that they could know. Analyze the damage caused as well as the threat of the attacker.

“We also began to see that the psychological damage was as significant as the physical damage,” says the professor.

Hostile environment towards women victims in the 80s

First female professor of medicine in Spain
María Castellano, first professor of medicine in Spain. EFE/Chema Moya

At that time, female victims had an unfavorable environment for filing complaints as they were told phrases like “It’s just that you are provoking him” or “It’s just that you should know how to handle it”. and even the police and, according to the professor, the Civil Guard itself discouraged them from doing so.

“Of course she didn’t get much support,” recalls Castellano, who emphasizes that the woman “felt forced to remain silent,” which is why many people later denied it. and argued that the attack was random, so as not to interfere with the conflict with the family and because of fear.

Those who took this step had “a lot of patience”, endured “great suffering” and made “a great sacrifice” as even doctors had to witness explicit situations of violence to report to the court.

Castellano not only interviewed the women, he also stressed the importance of knowing the assailant to know the degree of danger and he did this as he traveled to cities to investigate complaints.

First female professor of medicine in Spain
María Castellano, the first professor of medicine in Spain, was also a pioneer in research on violence against women. EFE/Chema Moya

“Whatever we knew about previous patterns of violence and how to fix it, a new pattern emerged that surprised us. Since we have known him, since the late 80s and early 90s, we have provided information to legislators, because legal medicine has to contribute to improving laws. That’s how laws came into existence after 2003 and 2004,” says the expert.

He continues, the pattern of violence against women remains the same today, although he highlights that in the case of indirect violence, as we now know, it is a form of revenge against women by harming children. There is a new form.

importance of equality education

Castellano emphasizes the importance of equality education from childhood as one of the “fundamental” tools to end gender violence and also emphasizes adolescence and young adulthood, where “we continue to see violence, in addition to , now it uses social networks to intimidate.” Other.”

For all this, Castellano does not understand those who deny gendered violence: “They are incomprehensible from a legal point of view, from a social point of view and from a moral point of view,” he insists.

References to Maria Castellano

As she approaches 8m, she is very clear about who her references are: grandmothers and mothers who, without reading or writing, did everything possible so that their daughters could study, as well as founders of institutions so that girls could learn. ; And he doesn’t forget Margarita Salas and Marie Curie.

And he emphasizes that women doctors have contributed to the humanization of medicine because “they have a sensitivity to many problems that men may not understand.”

Castellano proudly displayed the First Class Cross of San Raimundo de Peñafort in 1983, in recognition of her collaboration with the Administration of Justice, and the Police Merit Medal with a White Badge in 1992 for being the first woman to train the Spanish Judicial Police. Was given support. How to Work with Genetic-Molecular Marker Techniques at the Crime Scene, Introduction to DNA.

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