Barcelona rejects controversial La Manada verdict
Joint statement calls for an amendment of Spanish penal code as 750,000 people support initiative to bar judges involved from office
Barcelona’s city council has officially rejected the controversial verdict on ‘La Manada’ case. A court in Pamplona (Navarra, some 300km west of Catalonia), dismissed rape allegations after five men gang raped an 18-year-old girl during the 2016 San Fermín celebration. The judges found the group guilty of sexual abuse, instead of rape, arguing that they did not use violence to sexually assault her as she did not fight back when attacked. The verdict has sparked outrage and the Catalan capital adhered to the wave of rejection to the decision.
“This verdict minimizes the events,” says the joint text, read by the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau. According to the city council statement, the judges scrutinized the victim’s behavior, instead of that of the offenders. “This favors the sexist aggressions’ impunity and sends a message of discredit of the experiences which women suffering these aggressions are going through,” it adds. “We urge the Spanish congress and senate to amend the penal code to reconsider the sexual abuse assumption, and the juridical consideration of violence in cases of sexual aggression and rape,” also read Colau, who on behalf of the city council also supported the victim and the rallies to support her.
"We urge the Spanish congress and senate to amend the penal code to reconsider the sexual abuse assumption"
Barcelona city council statement
In response to the verdict, demonstrations across Spain were held on Thursday evening in order to reject it. In Barcelona, thousands of people filled Plaça Sant Jaume, where the city council is based, and loudly protested with pots, pans, keys and chants such as ‘Say what they may, it is not abuse, it is group rape’ or ‘I do believe you,’ referring to the 18-year-old woman.
700,000 people sign initiative
The protests are not only happening on the streets, but also on the internet. More than 750,000 people have signed an initiative on change.org demanding for the judges involved in the verdict to be barred from office. “In a country in which we have such a big sexist problem, we cannot afford judges that consider that to be sexual aggression it is not enough that 5 men attack a defenseless girl in a state of inebriation, and whom later abandoned and stole her phone to prevent her from asking for assistance,” claims the online initiative.