35K people have rallied in the Spanish town of Pamplona under the slogan “it’s not sexual abuse, it’s rape” and "This justice is bullsh*t" for the third consecutive day. The public outcry was ignited by the verdict in the “la manada” gang rape case, which stirred Spain in 2016. The five men, who named themselves “the wolf pack,” were charged with raping an 18-year-old girl at the time of the prominent bull-running festival in Pamplona, the capital of the Navarre region in northern Spain, in 2016.
This week the local court ruled that sexual abuse took place instead of the more serious offense of sexual assault, and sentenced each defender to nine years in prison and a €10,000 fine. This ruling, as well as the offense itself and the subsequent trial process, caused a public outcry across the country, as protesters also gathered in Madrid, Barcelona and in a number of other cities in Spain and abroad, such as Dublin.
▶️¡La vergonzosa sentencia a #LaManada ha conmocionado a millones de mujeres también internacionalmente!— Libres y Combativas ♀ (@LibrsyCombativs) 28 апреля 2018 г.
Las compañeras de @RosaWomen participan en la concentración en Dublín al grupo de ¡¡No es abuso, es violación!! #Cuéntalo #YoSiTeCreo pic.twitter.com/eHVKuxPtrm
The verdict also prompted an online outcry, as many expressed their anger and demanded justice with posts marked #YoSiTeCreo, which stands for #Idobelieveyou, or shared their painful experience under the hashtag #cuentalo (“tell it”).
Madrid’s Mayor Manuela Carmena, who was once a judge, Tweeted the verdict “does not meet women’s demand for justice” and called on the Supreme Court to repeal it.
Las sentencias judiciales pueden y deben ser criticadas y los jueces no pueden estar aislados de la sociedad. Esta sentencia no responde a las exigencias de justicia de las mujeres y espero que sea revocada por el Tribunal Supremo.— Manuela Carmena (@ManuelaCarmena) 27 апреля 2018 г.
Judicial sentences can and should be criticized and judges can't be isolated from society. This sentence does not respond to women's demands for justice and I hope it will be overturned by the Supreme Court.
The online petition has been set, calling for the dismissal of the judges. It has gathered more than 1 million signatures.
The verdict prompted public discussions over Spain’s current legislation. According to Spanish law, the lesser offense of sexual abuse does not involve violence or intimidation, which makes it different from rape. In this case the offenders filmed their crime, and the judges accepted the defense lawyers’ argument that the act was consensual as the plaintiff kept her eyes closed and wore an absent grimace.
Government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo called the case “despicable,” but said ministers respect the independence of courts. According to the spokesman, Justice Minister Rafael Catala is looking into changing Spain’s rape laws.