How has the'Wolf-Pack' case changed the bull running festival? Four Pamplona women explain.

How has the'Wolf-Pack' case changed the bull running festival? Four Pamplona women explain.
Copyright REUTERS
By Marta Rodriguez MartinezNatalia Oelsner
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Euronews spoke to four Pamplona-based women who describe how the "Wolf-Pack" case changed Spain's famed bull-run festival.


This year's Pamplona bull-fighting festival San Fermin takes place just two weeks after a Spanish court released on bail the group of men who sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman.

The friends, dubbed the "Wolf Pack", were sentenced on April 26 this year.

All five were convicted of sexual abuse but were acquitted of the more serious crime of rape, as the court did not consider that the victim had been subjected to intimidation or violence.

Ahead of the San Fermin's famous festival, Euronews spoke with Naira, Sara, Ana, and Paula — four Pamplona-based women who are the same age as the "Wolfpack" victim — about what they're doing to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse and how the festival has changed for them since the Wolf Pack trial. 

Women have to keep themselves safe

Not being alone at any point, avoid speaking to strangers, always keeping your mobile handy, these are some of the precautions that young women now take after the 2016 assault. 

“It’s sad that you have to be so careful but you try to not walk alone back home or just always walk through a busy street, you try to keep yourself safe so that it never happens to you,” said Naira.

'We’ve all been victims'

Inappropriate touching, insults, and groping, are some of the abuse that women encounter during parties or festivals of this kind.

“Not only me, but everyone, other girls, have been a victim of groping or insults by men,” said Naira.

Paula said she was a victim of catcalling and groping: “I think that everyone, not only in San Fermin, but also in nightclubs or some big party, has gone through this and I think it’s embarrassing.”

For Ana, she says men believe “it is their right to touch whomever they want”, which is why she avoids leaving her group of friends during the festival because “it’s when you’re alone that the worst happens".

A social revolution?

Sexual abuse in San Fermin is not new. During the period of 2004-2017, 13.41% of all sexual assault complaints during those 14 years in Pamplona were registered during the nine days the festival took place.

A study by the Public University of Navarra showed an increase in the number of sexual assault complaints during San Fermin, which may have been triggered by the "Wolfpack" case. The study concludes that the higher figures are a positive development, as fewer women are keeping silent about sexual abuse.

For Maria Silvestre, a sociology professor at the University of Deusto, the main changes in Spanish society since the "Wolf Pack" case have been an uptick in nation-wide protests.

The court’s controversial decision unleashed a wave of protests across the country. Under the motto “Sisterhood, I believe in you,” millions of people went into the streets to show solidarity with the "Wolf Pack" victim and denounce sexual violence against women. 

Pamplona’s city council has also launched an app that allows women to denounce any type of abuse that happens to them during San Fermin. The app sends an alert to police, which allows them to trace the victim and send immediate help.

Natalia Oelsner

Paula believes the tragic case has had some positive repercussions: "We are seeing how, finally, society is fighting to defend women's rights, and prevent women from being killed and raped."

"If justice is not on our side then we need to unite and fight ourselves so that these types of things don't happen anymore," said Naira.

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