The verdict last week in an alleged gang rape case in Pamplona, Spain set off protests that continued into the weekend, reports the New York Times. Five men were accused of raping a woman during the city’s running-of-the-bulls festival—but the court sentenced the men to a lesser charge of sexual abuse.
The prosecution sought a 23-year sentence, but the men were each sentenced to only nine years. On Saturday, upwards of 35,000 people gathered in Pamplona for protests with signs reading passionate statements like, “Do we have to die to prove rape?”
The assault took place in 2016 against an 18-year-old woman. She was attacked “in the early hours of the morning by five men, who filmed the assault using a cellphone,” the Times previously reported. The attackers reportedly referred to themselves as “manada,” meaning a wolf pack. Their lawyers alleged that the woman had consented to sex and claimed that the cellphone footage, which showed her holding still with her eyes shut, was proof. The Times continues:
The lawyers also argued that, after meeting the men, the woman had agreed to be escorted by them to her car and had allowed one of the men to kiss her. The prosecution, however, argued that any initial friendliness turned to terror once she was taken instead by the men into an out-of-sight alcove and attacked there, leaving her too frightened to fight back or even move while being raped.
During the woman’s testimony, she explained, “I was completely in shock ... I didn’t know what to do, I wanted everything to be over quickly and I closed my eyes so as to not see what was happening and for it to finish fast.”
Spain’s wildly outdated criminal code, however, requires “violence or intimidation” for a sexual assault to be considered rape. Thanks to this case, though, outraged protesters are calling for the law and its definition of rape to be overhauled and the Spanish government says it plans to finally review the more than 20-year-old criminal code. In the meantime, the case has sparked Spain’s own #MeToo movement, according to the Times. People are taking to social media with the hashtag #Cuéntalo, which means “tell your story”—and it’s a way to show just how irrelevant “violence or intimidation” can be to rape. Hopefully the Spanish government is listening.