When rape isn’t rape – outrage at Spanish prosecutor’s charge decision

THE debate about Spain’s rape laws has flared up once again over the case of six youths accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.

They have been charged with abusing the girl in a disused factory in the Catalan town of Manresa. But critics say they should face accusations of rape or sexual assault, and wonder why the prosecutor has not pressed for the more serious charge.

The six defendants, whose ages have not been revealed and who all deny having sex with the girl, could yet face rape charges, depending on the testimony given, says the prosecutor.

According to the charges the six took turns to have sex with the victim, who was “obviously” under the influence of drink and drugs, in October 2016.

A seventh man is charged with failing to help the victim as he stood by and watched.

In Spain for a serious sexual assault to be classified as rape, intimidation and violence has to be shown to have been used. This is generally taken to mean either a weapon has been used to threaten the victim or violence used.

In this case the prosecutor has said that as the girl did not fight back as she was too incapacitated by drink and drugs then it was not rape. He has said he may upgrade the charges after the girl testifies.

As the defendants left a Barcelona court on Wednesday (July 3) the victim’s uncle had to be restrained when he sought to attack them. He held a placard saying “it’s not abuse, it’s rape.” Supporters shouted the same slogan and “We want justice.”

The case has become known as the “Manada de Manresa” or Manresa wolf pack after the high profile case of a young woman who was attacked in Pamplona. She too did not fight back as she was gang raped in a doorway and appeared “passive and neutral.” A court cleared her attackers of rape, a decision overturned by the Supreme Court who said she was obviously terrified and intimidated.

Her five attackers had their sentences increased from 9 years to 15.

In the Manresa case, the defendants face 10 to 12 years in prison for the abuse charges, if convicted. If found guilty of sexual assault (rape) they could be sentenced to between 15 and 20 years.

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