Study shows increase in sexual assault complaints during Pamplona's San Fermin festival

Study shows increase in sexual assault complaints during Pamplona's San Fermin festival
Copyright REUTERS/Sergio Perez
Copyright REUTERS/Sergio Perez
By Marta Rodriguez MartinezCristina Abellan-Matamoros
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A study by Navarra's Public University shows there's an increase in the number of sexual assault complaints during Pamplona's bullfighting festival in the last few years.


A study by the Public University of Navarra, commissioned by the Pamplona city council, signals an increase in the number of sexual assault reports during Pamplona’s bull-running festival San Fermin.

The report shows that the number of cases received by police increased after the gang-rape case of an 18-year-old woman by a group of men dubbed the “Wolf Pack” as well as the murder of Nagora Laffage.

In 2006 and 2007, no sexual assault cases were reported to police during San Fermin. However, in 2008 — the year Nagore Laffage was raped and murdered by a man who took the young woman to his apartment while she was under the influence of alcohol — two cases of sexual assault were reported.

In 2016 — the year marked by the “Wolf Pack” case — that number went up to 20. The next year, the total number of sexual assault cases made known to police jumped up to 22, according to the study.

Rise in complaints a 'positive' step

"Social awareness has helped increase reporting sexual assault crimes," said professors Lohitzune Zuloaga and Paz Francés during a press conference.

"The number of complaints in the last two years has increased by 733.33%," they added.

Councillor for Public Safety, Itziar Gómez, said that the increase in the number of complaints is “positive” because it means that “there’s more trust in institutions, more social awareness, and a better response rate” rather than an increase in sexual assault cases.

In a letter to a Spanish TV station, the victim of the “Wolf Pack” assault encouraged other women to denounce their perpetrators. “What would have happened if I hadn’t reported him?” she asked, adding, “Nobody needs to go through this. Nobody should regret drinking and talking to people during a party.”

Taking into account the period of 2004-2017, 13.41% of all sexual assault complaints during those 13 years in Pamplona were registered during the nine days San Fermin takes place.

Gender inequality and the patriarchal culture “accentuated in party scenes” were partly responsible for sexual assault, according to the report.

“The causality between parties and sexual assault cannot be completely proved but it does highlight a relationship between the two,” said Pamplona’s city council is a statement, in which it adds that this does not only take place in San Fermin.

The study also compares San Fermin to other Spanish festivals such as La Tomatina in Buñol near Valencia, El Pilar Festival in Zaragoza, Valencia’s Las Fallas and La Feria de Malaga.

Pamplona is the city with the highest number of reported assaults that take place during San Fermin. In 94.74% of reported cases, police are able to identify the suspect.

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