The trial of five men accused of gang raping an eighteen-year-old woman during the Running with the Bulls festival in Pamplona has sparked anger across the country.
The five men, aged between 25 and 30, were part of a Whatsapp group called “La manada”, or “wolf pack”. In this group chat, police investigators found a video which showed some of the individuals apparently abusing another woman, who appeared to be unconscious. The five men drove down from Seville to Pamplona after one of them described the need to acquire rope and date-rape drugs, “because when we get there, we’ll want to rape everything we set eyes on”.
The judge presiding over the trial was criticised after allowing personal details about the victim’s life and character to be entered as evidence, while not permitting the inclusion of messages sent in the group explicitly talking about raping women.
A private detective was hired to compile a report on the victim during the aftermath of the attack. After two weeks at trial, the report was withdrawn by the defence. A guilty verdict would result in up to 25 years in jail.
“In this trial, it seems that what is being judged is not the crimes, but this woman’s honour,” argued Amelia Fernández, president of Themis, a Spanish organisation of women jurists.
“We live in a society with patriarchal attitudes. Courts reflect society, leading to a double victimisation as in this case. In crimes against women, the victim is turned into a suspect, something that never happens to complainants in other crimes.”
Along with the initial inclusion of the report, the judge allowed media debates over the victim’s credibility to be taken as evidence as well. The media focused heavily on the victim and her story with one TV network using Twitter to run a poll asking its followers to decide upon the truthfulness of the victim’s story.
Ms Fernández also drew attention to the fact that the defendants were cross-examined after hearing all other evidence including the victim’s testimony. In Spain, the standard procedure is to put the defendants on trial first.
Afterwards, the men sent Whatsapp messages, celebrating the crime and promising to share videos. The footage was examined by the authorities in detail and the report describes her as having a “passive or neutral” attitude throughout.
“I just wanted it to finish as soon as possible,” she said when on the witness stand.
The victim was found in the street distraught by a couple, and told the court that she still requires psychological treatment due to trauma from the attack — a common result of rape.