Stop Downplaying Rape Offenses

Target: Rafael Catalá, Spain’s Minister of Justice

Goal: Make sure all acts of rape are properly punished after charges were dismissed against five men who gang raped woman.

Back in July, 2016, five men gang raped an 18-year-old woman during Spain’s famous Running of the Bulls festival in the Navarra region. After a heated five-month trial, the group known as the “La Manada” (meaning “the pack” in Spanish after their WhatsApp group) received nine-year prison terms for abuse, not rape. Under Spanish law, a rape indictment requires explicit violence and intimidation, whereas abuse doesn’t. Seeing that the perpetrators were cleared of rape charges, this disturbing distinction has justifiably caused national outrage and demands for major political reform. To make matters even more volatile, the men in their late 20s recorded the ordeal over WhatsApp and allegedly reveled in their “conquest.”

Some attribute this event to initiating Spain’s very own #MeToo movement. As protests continue, politicians and feminist groups are rebutting against the verdict based on how it downplayed the severity of the crime. Seeing that some judges say the men shouldn’t be punished for anything besides stealing the girl’s cellphone, it is apparent that many don’t consider rape to be inherently viscous and coercive. Rightfully so, now Spaniards are urging the courts to expand their legal definition of rape to end social impunity among rapists. Sign the petition below to pressure the Spanish government to fix their outdated jurisdiction. Machismo culture has no place in Spain or the rest of the world.


Dear Mr. Catalá,

Recently five men were dismissed of rape charges after violating an 18-year-old woman during Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls festival in 2016. This is largely due to your nation’s troubling interpretation of what rape actually entails. Despite planning to commit the crime over WhatsApp, group members were simply charged with abuse based on lack of explicit “violence” or “intimidation.” Without a doubt, prison sentences of 20 years or more are justifiable for José Ángel Prenda, Alfonso Cabezuelo, Antonio Manuel Guerrero, Jesús Escudero and Ángel Boza. If rape isn’t legally defined as intrinsically savage, then more men will continue taking advantage of women without having to worry about significant consequences.

As you prepare to negotiate with legal experts over amending Spain’s criminal code, please acknowledge that what the survivor experienced was full-out rape, not merely abuse. Based on video footage, the girl was lured into a basement and stripped of her clothes, and found herself in a state of paralysis. Just because she was silent with her eyes closed doesn’t mean she consented. On the contrary, she was traumatized and in shock. Nobody should be expected to fight off their aggressors just to validate rape. Please make this explicitly clear in your conversations with fellow politicians in hopes of someday changing the law.


[Your name here]

Photo credit: CANVALCA

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  1. Kalliope M. says:

    It is really very shameful and pathetic, how so-called civilized nations deal with rape in modern times. It shows very clearly which low Significance women still have within a society.

  2. gen agustsson says:

    rape is sexual violence. stop raping people.

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