Demonstrators Protest “Feminist Emergency”
Demonstrations against what protestors called a “feminist emergency” broke out in 250 cities across Spain on September 20. These protests follow a violent year, during which 42 women were murdered in domestic violence cases, including 19 deaths during the summer of 2019 alone.
The Friday demonstrations came in the wake of another case that concluded earlier this week. While six men have been charged for rape, prosecutors argued that the defendents should face lesser charges of sexual assault because the victim was drunk at the time of the rape.
Tensions are also high due to the ongoing trial of seven men arrested for the rape of a 14-year-old girl from Catalonia. The case has incited protests for months. Demonstrators from the girl’s home region of Catalonia have repeatedly rallied outside Barcelona’s main courts.
“This summer has been barbaric, with figures on gender violence that are chilling,” said Covadonga Peremarch, the protest organizers’ spokeswoman.
A Feminist Emergency press statement stated, “We can’t let another school or parliamentary term begin as if nothing has happened. To do so would be to tolerate the intolerable.”
“This is an emergency,” they said.
Protestors donned purple in representation of the feminist movement, according to France 24 news. In Madrid, protestors braved inclement weather to take over the Puerta del Sol square in the center of the city.
A rape case from 2016 also galvanized the protestors. In what came to be known as the Wolf Pack case, five men who raped a woman men were acquitted of the charge of sexual assault,” which includes rape, and charged with the lesser crime of sexual abuse. The distinction was made because it was believed the woman had initially consented to sexual relations, reported the Guardian. Under Spanish law, rape must involve specific acts of violence, such as being threatened with a knife or having faced physical abuse, according to the Independent.
While the men were initially sentenced to nine years in prison in 2018, Madrid’s Supreme Court reversed the ruling. The men now face fifteen years in prison.
In 2004, Spain became the first European nation to pass a law specifically against gender-based violence. The state provided legal aid for the victims and established a special court for gender-based violence cases.
While Spain may have passed Europe’s first gender violence laws, protesters are determined to improve and expand legislation. Specifically, they are advocating for better differentiation between rape, sexual assualt, and sexual abuse within Spanish courts.