Rape victims in Spain are starting to come forward in higher numbers, encouraged by greater social awareness in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
The regions with the highest number of complaints falling under this category were Catalonia (110), Madrid (62) and Andalusia (41)
Police records show a 28.4% rise in reported “sexual assault with penetration” in the first three months of the year. During that time, the police received 371 alerts, an average of more than four a day, according to figures released on Thursday by the Interior Ministry.
The regions with the highest number of complaints falling under this category were Catalonia (110), Madrid (62) and Andalusia (41).
There were 3,025 reports of crimes against sexual freedom (including rape and other forms of sexual violence) over the period, a 13.8% rise from the same period in 2017. In the whole of 2017 there was a 7.8% rise in reports of sexual crimes compared with 2016.
La Manada case
Spanish society was recently rocked by a gang-rape trial in Pamplona where a panel of three judges found the five defendants guilty of sexual abuse but not of sexual assault (a category that includes rape).
The decision was based on the fact that the judges did not detect violence or intimidation in an encounter where the men took turns penetrating an 18-year-old woman who remained motionless as the perpetrators recorded the act with their cellphones.
The verdict sparked nationwide protests and demands to review the criminal code. Thousands of mental health experts issued a statement noting that panicked victims will often not fight their attackers, but that this cannot be construed as consent or absence of intimidation.
The ministry’s crime statistics also show a rise in kidnappings in the first quarter of the year, from 15 to 22. There was a 1.6% rise in burglaries for a total of 40,265 reported cases, and a 6.3% drop in first and second-degree murders, from 79 to 74. Aggravated robberies also dropped 7.1% to 14,384 cases from January to March.
Overall, there was a 1.6% rise in reported crimes over the period compared with 2017, for a total of 503,671. The crime rate is 44.1 per thousand inhabitants.
Thousands of students from high schools and universities across Spain came out to protest on Thursday against what they called the “scandalous sentence” from a Navarre court handed down to the five members of the so-called “La Manada” group, all of whom were given nine years of jail time for a lesser offense of sexual abuse, instead of the more serious charge of sexual assault (rape) that they had been accused of.
The Students Union and the feminist platform Free and Combative had called a strike for Thursday and organized more than 40 protests in cities and towns throughout Spain. At midday, thousands of students congregated in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, where they criticized a “sexist justice system that shelters and protects rapists,” according to the general secretary of the union, Ana García.
English version by Susana Urra.