Protestors took to the streets in several Spanish cities on Thursday after five men, found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman at the 2016 running of the bulls festival in Pamplona, were released on bail. The case had been regarded as a bellwether for women’s rights in Spain when the men were sentenced in April to nine years in prison for “continuous sexual abuse,” despite prosecutors seeking a conviction for rape and other charges that would carry sentences of almost 23 years. That decision — in which the judges had noted the alleged passivity of the victim (characterized by the prosecution as “consent”), and decided not to convict the men of rape — sparked mass protests across the country. Under Spanish law, rape must involve violence or intimidation.
On Thursday, a regional court panel of three judges ruled 2 to 1 that the men be released on bail, pending an appeal. The decision drew a swift and fierce response from women who took to the streets of Pamplona and other cities, wielding banners that read, “Enough patriarchal justice,” and, “No is no — anything else is rape.”
The victim, who was set upon by the five men — who referred to themselves in a WhatsApp group as “la manada,” a term used for a pack of wolves — was 18 at the time of the attack. The episode was filmed by the men on their cellphones.
The Pamplona assault case, which has enraged women’s groups for two years, is credited with roiling a Spanish element of the #MeToo movement, spurring women to share their experiences of being harassed or assaulted with the hashtag #Cuéntalo, meaning “tell your story.”
Spain’s secretary of state for equality, Soledad Murillo, said the Pamplona case had generated “social alarm,” but called on citizens to wait for the publication of the decision before analyzing why the judges ordered the men’s release.
Read the full story at The New York Times.