Feminists divided over call to boycott 2018 Running of the Bulls

Women’s groups from Pamplona are not supporting an initiative triggered by La Manada gang-rape case

Pilar Álvarez
Feminist groups from Pamplona say they will not support boycott.
Feminist groups from Pamplona say they will not support boycott.JDIGES (EFE)

Feminists groups in Pamplona have rejected calls to either boycott the 2018 Running of the Bulls or else attend the festivities dressed in black. Both initiatives emerged after a judge granted bail to five men, known collectively as “La Manada,” who were convicted of sexually abusing an 18-year-old woman at the 2016 edition of the event.

“This year at the Txupinazo [the opening firework ceremony], all women in black shirts” is one message that has been circulating since the men left preventive prison on June 22 while their appeals are reviewed.

Focusing on just one case makes the rest of the other assaults invisible

Pamplona feminist groups

But feminist collectives from Pamplona, where the international event is held, have distanced themselves from these “external interferences” and asked for the celebrations to be respected. Without directly mentioning the boycott or La Manada, these local groups said at a press conference on Tuesday that the initiatives were made “without consensus, without any confirmation and without a clear goal.”

“We are pioneers at advancing protocols against sexual aggression and we don’t understand the initiatives that emerge without consultation,” Koldobi Osta, president of the local association Peña La Única, told EL PAÍS by telephone.

Pamplona feminist groups say they will not take part in the protests organized for July 6, the day of the opening ceremony, in Pamplona and the rest of Spain, where women are being encouraged to wear black. According to Osta, these collectives will instead encourage people to wear a purple bandana – as well as the traditional red one – in protest of sexual violence.

The five members of La Manada.
The five members of La Manada.

The groups defended this stance in a press release, arguing that while they “understand the indignation,” it “cannot be used as an excuse to exploit our fight or to make simplistic analyses.”

“Focusing on just one case makes the rest of the other assaults invisible, it undermines their importance and highlights elements that have little to do with reality,” the press release continued. “All assaults are important, all women who suffer or who have suffered from aggression need our solidarity, and no assault, be it of high or low intensity, can be justified.”

The feminist groups, including the Navarra Platform for Women Against Sexual Violence, Farrukas and Emakume Internazionalistak, say they have worked for “many years” to make the Running of Bulls fiestas “free of any sexual aggression.”

“These are our fiestas, we lay down the rules and we have to demand a space in them: filling the squares, laughing, dancing, organizing them … enjoying and reveling as we see fit.”

The decision to grant bail to the five men in La Manada – meaning “wolf pack,” and so-called after the WhatsApp group they used to communicate with each other – compounded outrage over the highly controversial case. In April, judges acquitted the members of La Manada of rape and found them guilty of the lesser charge of sexual abuse, ruling that violence and intimidation was not used against the victim. The men were sentenced to nine years in prison, a decision that led to mass protests and calls to revise the legal definitions of sexual violence.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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