The horrific ‘Wolf Pack’ sexual assault case that has stunned an entire nation.

 

Content warning: This piece deals with issues around rape and sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers.

In July 2016, an 18-year-old woman from Madrid was walking home from the popular annual San Fermín running of the bulls festival when she was stopped by a group of five men.

The group of men offered to accompany the young woman to her car, where she had been sleeping while visiting the city of Pamplona.

Instead, the men, who were all in their late 20s, forced her into the doorway of a nearby apartment building’s lobby, where all five men raped her while filming the horrific assault on their phones.

Shortly after the attack, the woman was found by a couple passing by, who found her crying and curled up into the foetal position on a nearby bench seat.

The next day, the five suspects were arrested after the young woman provided the police with descriptions.

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On the convicted men’s phones, footage of the July 7 attack was found, as well as WhatsApp messages between the men who called themselves “la Manada” (the wolf pack).

According to the BBC, in the messages, the ‘wolf pack’ discussed the need to obtain date rape drugs and rope, “because when we get there, we’ll want to rape everything we set eyes on”.

spain rape
Thousands of people protested the treatment of the young victim. Image: Getty.

"Us five are f***ing one girl," another message said, according to CNN.

When the case was brought to the court, there was worldwide outrage over the treatment of the young victim.

“The rape victim has been put in the position of demonstrating that she was not responsible for being raped by five men – five,” said Argelia Queralt, a law professor at the University of Barcelona.

The 'wolf pack's' defence lawyers claimed that the incident was a case of consensual group sex.

As the woman appeared to remain silent and immobile in the video recorded by the men, the defence argued that she had consented to the encounter.

The defence's claim that the encounter was consensual outraged the public.

After all, the five men stole the victim's phone after the attack – if the sex was consensual, why would they steal from her?

A demonstrator holds a placard reading 'Silence is not a yes' yesterday. Image: Getty.

The defence also produced questionable evidence in the case, filing photographs of the victim smiling with her friends taken in the days after the attack by a private investigator, in an effort to prove that she was not traumatised by the incident.

In April this year, the five men, including a soldier and a police officer, were cleared of raping the young woman.

Instead, they were found guilty of sexual abuse which does not encompass rape and carries a much lesser sentence in Spain of nine years – rather than the 22 years which would have come with a rape conviction.

Following the result, more than 30,000 protestors took to the streets in Pamplona carrying posters declaring "it is not abuse, it is rape."

The public outcry led to discussions about Spain's rape law and calls for tougher punishments for sexual crimes in Spain, however, no changes have been made as of yet.

Now, after just two years in custody, the convicted men – José Ángel Prenda, Antonio Manuel Guerrero, Ángel Boza, Alfonso Jesús Cabezuelo and Jesús Escudero – are set to be released on bail in a move that has sparked mass outrage once again.

According to CBS News, as the men await their appeals on their nine-year prison sentences handed down in April, the court has set bail at 6,000 euros (around $9,000 AUD) for each man.

Women protested after the men were cleared bail. The placard reads 'Sister, I believe you'. Image: Getty.

They must also report to police three times a week, hand in their passports and they are forbidden from visiting Madrid – the victim's hometown.

Thousands of people have protested in Pamplona this week, disgruntled with the court's decision to grant bail.

Marches were also held in various other cities including Barcelona, Valencia and the victim's own home city, Madrid.

It is not yet clear when the five men will be released from prison.

One thing's for sure though, when it comes to sexual assault and victim blaming – we still have a long, long way to go.

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