National News: “It’s Not Abuse, It’s Rape”, extended report including statement by Emprendada Feminista of Ibiza

The Facts

  • The girl was 14.
  • The girl was drunk.
  • She was taken to a warehouse where 6 men, aged between 19 and 36 took turns to have sex with her.
  • The first man who had taken her there allotted those he called 15 minutes each before having to change.
  • Another man watched and masturbated.

Under Spanish law as it stands, the girl must prove she suffered violence or intimidation for the men to face charges of rape.

The Law

  • Current Spanish Law has a ‘dividing line’ between the lesser crime of Sexual Abuse and the more serious crime of Sexual Assault (Rape)
  • For a prosecution of Sexual Assault there must be evidence of Violence and Intimidation.
  • It is the ordeal of the victim in the legal battle over the burden of proof in these areas, particularly the intimidation aspect, that is most controversial.

Introduction

  • Introduction by Nick Gibbs

Spain is in the midst of a socio-political public debate on the question of sexual violence. At times it has escalated into all out old-school protest on the streets. It has brought into question aspects of Spanish law regarding gender imbalance, and despite the perhaps inevitable gaffs and blunders along the way, it may yet result in one of those rare situations where the public had their say and affected real change in the core values and law of a nation.

“It’s Not Abuse, It’s Rape”, Report, Timeline & Statement by Emprendada Feminista of Ibiza
“It’s Not Abuse, It’s Rape”, Report, Timeline & Statement by Emprendada Feminista of Ibiza

In this extended report we include a statement by Emprendada Feminista of Ibiza, and a catch up series of read-more articles by El Pais in English. 

This is not comfortable reading, but it is important.

Social Complexity

We British are very quick to be critical of what we see as some outdated attitudes still prevalent in Spain. For sure some of the commonplace employment practices of sexual discrimination in Spain, or certainly Ibiza, are a distant memory in the UK where an advert for a young shot girl would have you shot.

But to dismiss the current Spanish struggle with its own sexual culture as nothing more than playing catch up would be an example of the imperial arrogance the rest of the world finds to be our least endearing national trait.

The reality is a much more complex situation that we need to understand fully before becoming judgemental. For example, in my experience very few British people know that the age of consent in Spain is 13. And they react with somewhere between shock and revulsion when told. But however uncomfortably that fact sits with you, the reality is that Spain has a far lower level of teenage pregnancies than the UK. Perhaps the acknowledgement of sexual awareness and capacity at a younger age is an important differential compared to Britain’s long failing strategy of telling teenagers they mustn’t do it, but ‘rewarding’ them with benefits if they go ahead and do it, becoming pregnant as a result.

“No es abuso, es violación”

Spain also has laws within the age of consent reflecting a level of fairness and common sense that even those most enraged by the last bit of information have to agree with. In Spain it is recognised in the law that a 16 year old having sex with a 15 year old is a hugely different thing to a 44 year old having sex with a 15 year old.

In Britain we cannot see beyond some ridiculous notion of a complete change that occurs on the day of the 16th birthday, and if any acknowledgement is to be granted to the 16 year old 15 year old situation, it is because some police officers and a prosecutor turn a blind eye as our law is not equipped to deal with it.

These age of consent issues are not directly relevant to the current and recent cases of sexual assault in Spain, but the point I am making is that we should not judge without the additional social awareness of another society’s cultural history. Just because it is different doesn’t mean it is wrong, and in some areas I consider Spain’s laws regarding sex as being more progressive than those of the U.K.

That said, in the area of sexual violence change is, in my opinion, both overdue and necessary.

Pornography & Desensitisation

There is a growing desensitisation to sexual violence witnessed in pornography that is now available with an ease of access never available in the past. This access to porn of an ever more graphic violent nature, and from an ever younger age, is something the prosecutors’ expert witnesses in Spain’s high profile gang rape cases have referred to often Personally, I do not feel this is just another example of one generation looking back in automatic shock at the generation before. To put porn into perspective, I don’t think many of us had considered felatial choking as a ‘thing’ in any previous decade. Now it seems it is an obligatory act. What effect must that have on the young boys discovering a sexual identity, particularly those without any other form of role model or guidance? It is most likely they will view women as objects for their gratification.

Of course porn cannot be blamed for every sexual attack, and there will be plenty of people who would be repelled by such imagery, but society wouldn’t accept 13 and 14 year old children watching an endless stream of people taking all types of drugs, how to cook up, to inject, the effects, all with the subjects of the films appearing to love it. Society wouldn’t accept it because it knows it would result in many more teenage drug addicts. Ditto murders, or any other anti-social anti-humanity aspect of modern life.

It would be better to win the war of right minds without fighting the battle. A change in access restrictions, better moral compass investment, better education, there are many ways we can redirect our young people as we have successfully in their attitudes to disabilities and to race, but the reality is that right now we are losing the war as far as the importance of respect and consent is concerned.

Clear Message

It is all the more essential in this context that a clear message is sent out to those who commit such heinous crimes as gang rape. There must be no doubt, no grey area, and unfortunately Spain’s current laws of a division between what they term sexual abuse and sexual assault allows just that.

A crime one side of that dividing line is seen as a victory for the perpetrators, that is was just ’boys being boys’. At the same time that outcome is often obtained through a determined attempt by the defence, regardless of the victim’s ordeal, to rubbish the prosecution’s case of intimidation. A failure to prove the case of intimidation will drop the charge to that of sexual abuse, and is seen by some as a public declaration by the state to the effect of ‘she was asking for it’.

The courts got it wrong in 2018 in the case of the ‘sexual abuse’ at the bull running. Their decision caused outrage that took thousands onto the streets and this in turn played a big part in the appeal court overturning the decision in 2019, convicting those responsible for the higher charge of gang rape.

The government got it wrong in creating a review committee to which they appointed mainly men. More protests and they backtracked re-appointing members to form a majority of women.

It looked that things were definitely moving in the right direction when recommendations were made to completely revise Spain’s laws for sexual violence, removing the controversial diving line and evidentiary absolutes.

However, the debate was brought back into sharp focus with the trial of another group of men.

2019 Trial

These are the facts that as far as I can ascertain, are undisputed or at least broadly accepted.

  • The girl is 14.
  • The girl was drunk.
  • She was taken to a warehouse where 6 men, aged between 19 and 36 took turns to have sex with her.
  • The first man who had taken her there allotted those he called 15 minutes each before having to change.
  • Another man watched and masturbated.
  • 12 witnesses appeared, most of whom said they were threatened by the perpetrators to keep quiet.

Yet in this appalling situation Spanish law requires that for the men to be tried for rape it is the victim, the 14 year old girl, who must prove she ‘felt intimidated’.

That is so wrong, however worse still is the legal reality that the way this manifests in court is that the defence will attempt to prove she was ‘up for it’, and so force her to relive the ordeal, and also doing everything possible to destroy what must at best be a very fragile psych.

There is so much wrong with that situation it is difficult to know where to start but let us take one fact from the list of those known. A 36 year old man cannot have sex with a 14 year old girl. That has to be rape. Spanish law says he can’t, British law says he can’t. There should not be the need to prove anything beyond the fact he did.  The manner in which he did may affect the sentence, but not the crime. And for the love of God a 14 year old girl should not have to prove her case. We are outsiders and we cannot judge people by our own cultural standards, nor move to another country and complain about their laws, but at this level it is surely not a question of nationality, it is a question of humanity. The Spanish law must change.

However, if I could make one suggestion to the Spanish people it would be to stop giving these gang rapists macho names. I won’t repeat them but tagging a group of men with a glorifying macho title seems entirely unhelpful to me. Just call them rapists, that is what they are.

Timeline & Reading

This selection of articles from the excellent El Pais in English will give a good overview of the key cases and events in the issue of Spain’s rape laws.

Though published most recently it may be a good idea to start with this article by Isabel Valdes

Spain’s “wolf packs” what is driving gang rape culture?

Experts cite growing exposure to violent pornography at a young age as one of the determining factors in the increase in group assaults

http://bit.ly/2GgTMrk

2016 – The Running of the Bulls Gang Rape was committed.
2018 – Those charged were convicted of the lesser “sexual abuse” crime.  La Manada ruling sparks fierce debate over definition of sexual violence

A court’s decision to clear five men of rape in the high-profile “Running of the Bulls” case has raised questions about what constitutes intimidation2019- supreme court overturns the 2018 decision

http://bit.ly/2O0eJNy

2019 – Supreme Court raises convictions in “Wolf-Pack” sexual assault case to 15 years

The five members of “La Manada,” as the group of friends is known, have been found guilty by the judges of rape, and not the lesser charge of sexual abuse

http://bit.ly/2GijV9g

2019 – Trial of the six men accused in the sexual assault/abuse of a 14 year old girl starts. Victim in Manresa gang-rape case testifies in court

A total of six men are facing trial for allegedly taking it in turns to penetrate the youngster, who was 14 years old at the time of the events

http://bit.ly/2JB0ACe

Statement by Emprendada Feminista of Ibiza

  • This statement was provided by Emprendada Feminista, and translated to English by one of their members. We have taken the decision not to edit it down. Doing so would improve its readability, but at the same time risk losing the passion and frustration behind the sentiment. It reads well enough to make sense, particularly if you choose to read the additional articles first.

“The time a victim, sexually assaulted by her boss was accused of “asking for it” due to her wearing a mini skirt; when a victim was made responsible by the question “did you close your legs well enough?”; the blood-curdling crime of a woman murdered by 70 stab wounds that was not considered viciousness; a group of five rapists who were condemned for abuse and not rape; the approval of the process of exoneration of the confessed murderer of Laura Luelmo… are only some of the examples of the clearly sexist conducts of the patriarchal judicial system. And we now read of how the “Manada de Manresa” (Manresa gang-rape) is being put on trial, once more, for abuse and not rape, and how once more the victim is being questioned about feeling intimidated, instead of investigating the acts committed by the aggressors: surprise, surprise! Once more, the focus is on the behaviour of the woman who suffered rape, and not on those who raped her.

“Sister, I believe you”

We are talking about a gang-rape that occurred in 2016 in which the incriminated, 7 men, between the ages of 19 and 39, took turns repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl. During the trial, the prosecution asked the girl if she felt intimidated, due to the fact that the accused are on trial for an abuse crime, rather than rape, and she is the one having to explain herself so that the case of intimidation is considered. It is truly shameful.

To provide context: the minor was at a party in an abandoned factory, which she left, accompanied by one of the accused, to go to a nearby shed. She had already had sexual relations with this person, so she did not suspect the danger of the situation. He was the one who called the rest, and the 6 men took turns penetrating her, as they passed a firearm replica around. She was also forced to practice oral sex for one of the aggressors. The victim said she only remembers flashes, as she was under the influence of alcohol.

#josiqueetcrec

Alcohol might not be the only thing she was under the influence of, as she suspects they might have drugged her. The seventh man did not partake in the rape but watched whilst masturbating. The victim’s friend was at the party with her and found her in the shed. She saw all of the aggressors with their pants down, whilst one of them penetrated her and another reminded the rest that every 15 minutes it was someone else’s turn. During the trial, the victim’s friend stated that the aggressors planned to throw the girl into the river, but that they finally permitted her to take her home.

The feminist movement has been drawing attention to the patriarchal judicial system with protests and marches, in name of the victim of “La Manada” (The Pack) of San Fermín 2016. Not only in Spain, but the whole world yelled “I BELIEVE YOU!”, and thanks to that support, the victim was able to find strength to continue appealing until the aggressors were convicted for RAPE. Many said we are not apt to typify crime or to dictate sentence, but a sexist sentence concerns us all, and we were able to stir up change.

Once more, a victim, and not the rapists, is questioned at court, and the crime is abuse, and not rape. So, once more, and as many as we have to, we will criticise, protest and report this Judiciary System that blames and denigrates women methodically. The feminist movement, the empowerment, the sorority and the unions we create within us makes us strong. This is not just one victim, this is for all of us.

Emprendada Feminista wants to show our utmost repulsion to the sexist behaviour of the prosecution, for not contemplating the crime of rape in the “Manresa gang-rape” case. Once more it is clear, the feminist fight is necessary and will always be necessary as long as sexism and patriarchy are as rooted and ingrained in our society and the institutions that are supposed to protect us, as they are today.”