Popular rescue gesture saves woman victim of violence in Spain

Spanish police were alerted on Tuesday to an alleged situation of gender-based violence after a woman made a hand gesture for help.

When stopping a car at an alcohol and drug control in Cáceres, Guardia Civil agents saw the woman, who was traveling with her husband and a baby, making a gesture of help with one hand. The practice, which involves closing the hand with the thumb under the remaining fingers, was popularized on social networks.

Police removed the woman from the vehicle and questioned her in private, with the Spanish woman confirming that she was being threatened by her husband, according to a statement from the Guardia Civil. In fact, days before, the husband would have grabbed his wife by the neck during a disagreement.

The agents immediately notified Central 062, responsible for cases of alleged mistreatment of gender-based violence, and the driver of the vehicle was arrested.

A simple gesture to save lives

The gesture, which has been popularized on social media, can be used when someone is in danger, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. The victim raises the hand with the palm facing outwards, places the thumb under the other fingers and closes the hand.

The campaign, called “Signal of Help”, spread to social networks in 2020, during the first confinements resulting from the covid-19 pandemic, in an attempt to address the increase in domestic violence. The goal was to give victims a way to ask for help through a non-verbal cue.