La manada, the wolf pack: as a label, already coined, for the group consisting of five men convicted of sexual abuse in Pamplona, we shall let it stand. What I propose is not so much to write an article, but rather to make a few quick remarks about the court decision, much worse than disturbing, which has found the five accused to be guilty of 'continuous sexual abuse in a position of dominance' instead of rape.
The facts: a group of five men, aged close to thirty, take a girl of 18, who is drunk (hours later it was found that she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.91: very high, and more so given the time that had gone by), they put her in a cubicle off a building hallway and from her all five obtain oral sex, they penetrate her three times vaginally and once anally. As well there is oral-anal sex. To perform these acts, the girl is held by at least two of the men at a time. This is sexual abuse, says the verdict.
It is so called because the use of neither force nor intimidation is apparent. The reading of the almost 90 pages of very detailed description in the court decision reveal just the opposite: there are the videos of the aggression (notably, the attack was filmed on the perpetrators' mobile phones and shared by them with their friends), the testimonies of the people who helped her when the five men left, the medical reports, the expert views of the psychologists who gave evidence at the trial, the declaration of the victim herself, and even those of the aggressors. Everything points to rape.
There was consent, it is said, of a debased sort, but was there? The lack of an explicit rejection by the victim is given as proof of this. False. In these situations of extreme violence and radical imbalance in relative strength, as the psychologists stated and as is well described in the scientific literature, the victim becomes scared, practically defenceless: an emotional blockage, it is called; the person even gets to the point of simply hoping that it will all be over quickly. She never said yes.
1) If the men had, instead of raping the woman, taken the bag containing her money, they would undoubtedly have been found guilty of theft with violence and/or intimidation. The same would apply if the victim had been male.
2) In this scenario, no-one would say that theft had not taken place if the victim, frightened, had simply handed over her wallet in the face of the presence of this gang of morons.
More about consent:
Did the young woman raped in Pamplona provoke the men? Putting the question like this is to criminalize the victim. Today's widespread toplessness on beaches, microbikinis, miniskirts, transparent fabrics and so on, are in no sense an invitation for any kind of sexual relationship.
Moreover, to take someone you may have met casually home to your flat for the famous nightcap and even sexual foreplay, is not an authorization to maintain, against the other person's will, actual sexual acts. And furthermore: having mutually consented to carry out a genital sexual practice, with penetration, does not allow one to repeat it, or to do the same in another orifice, or to use some object or instrument for the purpose.
Aggressors have no right to satisfy desires or to simply release sexual frenzy even when they are sure that the would-be sexual partner has turned them on. No aggressor has such a right, nor does the other person have any duty to satisfy desires or moods: not sexually or indeed in any other ambit.
If the men had, instead of raping the woman, taken the bag containing her money, they would undoubtedly have been found guilty of theft with violence and/or intimidation
1) Nobody will say that showing the contents of a handbag when someone pays in the butcher's shop, for example, is an invitation to a watching thief to take what he wants from it.
2) Freedom is a basic right; and, moreover, it is a foundation of the rule of law, with a superior value, as defined in item 1. 1 of the Spanish constitution. If this is so, then any behaviour, such as sexual aggression, that attacks this freedom, must be punishable, without needing to put any fine points on it.
Judicial protection, as it has been afforded for these sexual abusers (as they are known at present), allowing them to enter courtroom out of the public gaze or to have their faces pixelized in images, is unacceptable, since it is arbitrary. To mention two recent Spanish cases: where was the pixelization of the face of Ana Julia Quezada (who is black and foreign) for the murder of the boy Gabriel? And of the face of El Chicle, in the case of Diana Quer in Galicia? And did the well-off status of the victim's family make them unworthy of this same protection?
One of the abusers is a Civil Guard officer employed in a unit working to combat... violence against women. Beyond comprehension. The testimonies he himself recorded of what he understood need to be read. If violence against woman were really taken seriously by the authorities who have to prevent, reduce and pursue it, then somebody needs to revise the selection processes for entry not only to the police body but also to units as sensitive as this one.
The only response that has occurred to the president of the Supreme Court, Carlos Lesmes, is to censure the criticisms of the verdict made by public figures. He believes that it "seriously compromises the public confidence that our justice system deserves". No mention of any improvement in the justice system and no mention of the victim.
In a highly sensitive moment for the not very illustrious image of Spanish justice, the projection to foreign public opinion could not be worse. For example, on the day the verdict was made public, Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung asked if "macho culture" was refusing to disappear in Spain. The following day, The New York Times, with an excellent article by Spanish correspondent Raphael Minder on the "wolf-pack", gave an extensive account of the demonstrations that followed the court announcement.
Let us hope that an appeal will put to rights what is now twisted.