Why this story matters:
The five men -- reported in 2016 for the gang rape of an 18-year-old woman -- have been sentenced to nine years in jail for the offense of “continued abuse.” The public prosecutor had called for 22 years in jail for sexual aggression and violation of privacy, since the attack was recorded on the men's cellphones. The controversial ruling, however, found the men who called thier WhatsApp group La Manada, or The Pack, did not use violence or intimidation against their victim.
This ruling has angered a number of jurists, who criticized the claim that the woman -- who had been under the influence of alcohol, and reported being in a state of shock -- consented. Many feminist organizations also spoke out against the ruling:
"If you resist an assault, they kill you; if you don’t resist, it’s not considered rape," said women protesting in front of the Pamplona courthouse.
The trial of "The Pack" has become a symbol of the feminist struggle. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, tens of thousands of women in Pamplona and Madrid have taken to the streets with slogans such as “We are The Pack,” or “Sister, I believe you.”
In her trial, the victim had to face questions about her personal life, including claims that she had never been assaulted in the first place, because she did not seem traumatized. One of the defendant’s lawyers even hired a private detective to follow her and show that she was living a “normal life.”
Feminist organizations have already called for demonstrations across Spain to condemn the sentence and support the victim. Her lawyers are planning to appeal the ruling.
The case also adds to the dark reputation of the Running of the Bulls, which has spent years trying to free itself of the stigma of sexual abuse that has taken place on several occasions during this iconic event.
Details from the story:
- Judges ruled that there was no violence or intimidation in the assault and did not consider it to be rape, but rather "continued sexual abuse."
- The five defendants have been given nine years in jail and five years of probation. They will have to pay the victim a total of €50,000 between them.
- One of the magistrates argued the five men should have been acquitted. He stated that, in the video recorded by the defendants, the victim did not appear to be suffering.
- The lawyers for the victim have announced that they will be appealing the sentence. The popular prosecution (the regional government of Navarre) will also appeal. And it is expected that the defense lawyers for the five defendants will also appeal.
- Every year a total of 1,200 rapes are reported in Spain. However, experts warn that the real number of assaults is much higher given that only one in every five women who suffer an assault reports it to the police.