′Wolf Pack′ gang rape verdict sparks another day of protests in Spain | News | DW | 27.04.2018
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'Wolf Pack' gang rape verdict sparks another day of protests in Spain

A Spanish court on Thursday found five men guilty of "sexual abuse" instead of the more serious charge of rape. Rallies hit multiple cities on Friday as the government said it would consider changing the law.

Thousands of people took to the streets across Spain on Friday for a second day of protest against a court's decision to acquit five men of gang raping an 18-year-old woman.

The controversial decision — which follows the spread of the international #MeToo movement — has prompted the Spanish government to consider reforming the country's rape laws.

Read more: Spanish 'wolf pack' sex gang jailed but cleared of rape

Friday's developments:

  • Protests broke out in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, where the men are from.
  • Demonstrators also gathered in the northern city of Pamplona, where the crime took place, to protest outside the court that handed down Thursday's ruling. They held banners reading "palace of injustice."
  • A state prosecutor, Jose Sanchez, separately said he would appeal Thursday's conviction.
  • Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catala has started consulting legal experts about whether to update the country's rape laws, according to government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo.
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Protests erupt after 'wolf pack' sex gang acquitted of rape

What were the reactions?

State attorney Sanchez said the men should be punished for "sexual assault and not only for sexual abuse."

Government spokesman Mendez de Vigo said: "I want to emphasise the engagement of this government with the victims, always with the victims. Gender-related violence is a scourge that we must end."

Chelo Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the 8M feminist group, said: "The problem lies with the institutions, which continue to be patriarchal and sexist." Referring to the protests, she said: "There is a change in awareness in Spanish society."

Read more: 100 days of #MeToo

Spain - Protests in Pamplona against a decision not to convict five men of gang rape (picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Barrientos)

Protests erupted quickly in Pamplona after Thursday's verdict was announced

What was the verdict? The Pamplona court convicted the five men, who referred to themselves as "The Pack," of sexual abuse rather than sexual assault. Under Spanish law, sexual abuse is deemed a lesser offense than sexual assault, which also includes rape. The five men were sentenced to nine years each in prison.

What happened in Pamplona? The men had been accused of dragging a woman into a building and raping her during the 2016 San Fermin festival in Pamplona. The men, who posted a recording of the attack in a WhatsApp messaging group, said she had consented to the encounter.

More to come: Pamplona's Woman's Movement said it was planning to stage a third day of protests on Saturday.

Read more: Why 2018 is the year of the woman

amp/rt (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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