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La Manada Case; Spanish feminist movement highlights Europe’s need for uniform legal definition on rape

[Brussels 22 May 2018] Rape continues to be one of the most devastating forms of violence against women, yet it is too often a taboo subject and thus remains shrouded in silence. On April 26th, the Provincial Court of Navarre published its judgement on the horrifying La Manada Case, otherwise known as “The Wolf Pack Case” sending shockwaves across Europe.

Our members, LEM España, alongside tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets of the main cities in Spain to protest the court’s decision on the case. The incredible actions of our members and the reaction of Spanish society has led to the Spanish government and all political parties recognising the need to better define the crime of rape.

The La Manada case opened a national discussion in Spain on the legal definition of rape and the specific aspects judicial bodies need to consider when reviewing such cases. What is key in this case is that “intimidation” was not considered, which led to a conviction based on “Sexual Assault” and not “Rape”.

The dedicated response of the Spanish feminist movement highlights a critical failing seen across Europe. At present, EU member states have varying definitions on what constitutes rape; what is needed is the same legal definition across Europe to ensure that women and girls are provided the best possible criminal processes for the prosecution of perpetrators.

Protests in response to La Manada Case Court Decision

The actions of the feminist movement and in particular, our members in Spain have not only raised this issue on the political agenda nationally but across Europe as well. As Secretary General of LEM España Teresa Nevado Bueno explains, “We have taken the problem to all of Europe and we have raised the need for more adequate analysis and changes in all European legislations”

In 2013, the EWL called for the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Combatting and Preventing Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, the Istanbul Convention as a framework to combat the limitations in existing legislation on Rape across Europe in our Act against Rape! Use the Istanbul Convention campaign.

Under the common slogan “Act against rape! Use the Istanbul Convention!” a series of public events took place in 33 countries all over Europe during the 16 days of activism against violence against women between 25 November and 10 December.

An adequate implementation of the Istanbul Convention will serve to make a vast change towards more effective gender equality. However, at present only 18 EU member states have ratified the Convention

Join us in our support and solidarity for our sisters in Spain; our voices are too loud and united to remain silent any longer!

We demand the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention by the European Union and all Member States now!

Find out more about the Act against Rape, Use the Istanbul Convention campaign including an Action Kit here and you can find out more about our campaign for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention here.

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EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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