Sanfermines sexual assault

Running of the Bulls rape victim sends open letter to Spanish TV show

“Do it however you want, but tell your story,” reads the text. “Do not remain quiet. If you do so, you are letting them win”

Protest in Valencia against the release of ‘La Manada’ on bail.
Protest in Valencia against the release of ‘La Manada’ on bail.MÓNICA TORRES

The victim in the so-called “La Manada” sexual assault case has sent an open letter to a Spanish TV show in which she calls on other victims of abuse to report what has happened to them. In the text, which was read out today on the morning show El programa de Ana Rosa, the young woman from Madrid urged others to “tell your story.” “Do it however you want, but tell your story. Do not remain quiet. Because if you do so, you are letting them win.”

The young woman had a message of thanks for those who demonstrated against the decisions made by the courts

The assault case dates back to the 2016 Running of the Bulls fiestas in Pamplona, northern Spain, when a group of five men known as “La Manada” – meaning “wolf pack,” and so-called after the WhatsApp group they used to communicate with each other – ushered the victim, who was then 18, into the hallway of a building where they sexually assaulted her, filming what was happening on their cellphones. They then stole her cellphone and left the scene. She was found by passersby sobbing on a bench, and the police were called. The men were apprehended and prosecuted for sexual assault. The sentence in the trial was announced at the end of April.

In her letter, the young woman at the center of the case had a message of thanks for those who have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the decisions made by the courts so far in the case. These include the ruling that found the five men guilty of the lesser charge of sexual abuse, instead of rape, meaning a lower sentence of nine years, as well as the release of the five men on bail after spending nearly two years in custody, until the appeals against their sentences have been heard.

The text of the missive does not mention sexual assault nor discuss the conclusion of the trial, given that it was designed to be “a letter of thanks.” She writes: “I wanted to give thanks to all of the people who, without knowing me, took to the streets of Spain and gave me a voice when many were trying to take it away from me. Thank you for not leaving me alone, for believing me, sisters. Thanks for everything,” she writes, also calling for respect and sensitivity when discussing the case, given that she is not the “girl from Sanfermines,” but “a daughter, granddaughter and friend.”

After thanking her family, the victim goes on to call on all “women, men, girls and boys” to always report any sexual abuse – “It’s the most important thing,” she writes. “No one should have to go through this. No one should have to regret having a drink, or talking to people at a party. Or walking home alone, or wearing a short skirt. We all have to condemn the mentality that this society has, where this can happen to anyone.”

She continues saying that “I can assure you that the route you have to take is not a pleasant one. But, what would have happened if I hadn’t reported it? Think about that.” She concludes: “If I’ve pricked the conscience of just one person, I will be satisfied.”

The letter is the first time that the victim has made direct statements in public. Due to an error when the sentence in the case was published, her name and photos were briefly released and were widely shared on the internet.

There were rumors that members of La Manada may end up being interviewed by TV channels

When the members of La Manada were released from jail last Friday, there were rumors that they may end up being interviewed by TV channels. However, feminist organizations called for a boycott against any channel that did so, and were supported by several high-ranking politicians.

Today, TV presenter Ana Rosa stated that no show on the Mediaset network (Cuatro, Telecinco, among others), would pay any of the convicted criminals for an interview.

One of the group, Antonio Manuel Guerrero, who is a member of Spain’s Civil Guard, wrote a letter from prison earlier this year in which he denied the victim’s version of events, and accused her of lying. The letter was published in May of this year by an online news outlet, just after the sentence in the case was made public.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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