A court in Spain found five men guilty of sexually abusing an 18-year-old woman at the July 2016 Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona; but, “sexual abuse” is not rape.
The five men will get a nine-year prison sentence, five years of probation and a €10,000 fine each, rather than a 22-year sentence. The Court’s decision was not unanimous and can be appealed.
The gang rape group were all in the 20s and included a police officer. The men filmed the whole incident, stole the woman’s phone and she was found crying on a bench.
The high-profile case known as “La Manada” (The Pack) attracted enormous attention, as the defense was tracking the online activity of the 18-year old victim to assign responsibility for the event. The defense argued she has “a relationship” with all five men. They also argued that the woman did not try to defend herself, against all five men.
The woman merely expressed shock and said she submitted to ensure that everything would end quickly.
The judge ruled that the perpetrators were not raping the victims but acted from a “situation of superiority” that intimidated the victim. In sum, there was no explicit consent, but there was no sexual violence, which under Spanish law means there was no rape.
The case also drew attention to a culture of alcohol binging and drug intoxication during the Pamplona festival and the ensuing behaviours this encourages.
The ruling attracted rage from the public and women advocacy groups, with the speaker of the Basque government calling the judgement “incomprehensible” as it legitimizes sexual violence. The leader of the left wing Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, said the ruling tells women that if they “don’t take on five thugs double your size, putting your life at risk, it’s not rape.”
Thousands of people took to the streets chanting “It’s not abuse, it’s rape.”