Fifteen men have been arrested in separate cases of sexual assault in Pamplona this week during the festivities leading up to the annual running of the bulls, prompting mass protests in the Spanish city. On Thursday, a 19-year-old woman was allegedly raped by five men from Seville who filmed the attack with a mobile phone. Among the alleged attackers was a recent graduate of Spain’s military police corps, as well as another member of the armed forces. Police have been investigating three other rape cases in addition to several complaints about sexual harassment — one of which was filed by a police officer who said she was molested while on the job.
Spectators of a bullfight on Monday in Pamplona left the ring in silence as a sign of protest, while bars turned off their music to allow protesters in one of the city’s main squares to be heard. Monday evening, thousands of people wearing the festival’s traditional red neckerchiefs and white clothes gathered outside Pamplona’s city hall to protest the attacks. In remarks made on Tuesday, Pamplona mayor Joseba Asirón said that the number of sexual assaults in the city was probably normal compared to previous years, but that he would rather see people protesting than not. “The real difference with other years isn’t that such things are happening but that they are finally getting denounced,” said Asirón. “The image, whether good or bad, that is being projected from this city is that of a sick society, not only here but everywhere.”