Hon. Lucia Aviles, from the Association of Women Judges of Spain, was Interviewed about Spain’s Supreme Court Ruling on the “Wolf Pack’s” Rape Case
In an interview for eldiario.es, IAWJ member and founder of the Association of Women Judges of Spain (AMJE), Hon. Lucia Aviles addressed Spain’s Supreme Court “historic” ruling on the rape case by the “Wolf Pack.”
On July 2016, according to BBC, five men had unprotected non-consensual sex with an 18-year-old woman, after dragging her into a hallway and removing her clothes. In 2018, a court in Navarra ruled that the men were guilty of sexual abuse and sentenced them to 9-years in prison. Controversy arose due to the judge’s decision of now sentencing the men for sexual assault. Two months later, the men were provisionally released.
The ruling lead to widespread demonstrations from human rights groups and politicians, “who were incredulous that a prolonged sexual assault involving intercourse by five men could be anything other than rape,” the Supreme Court ruled that the original verdict was wrong “as the victim had not consented to sex and it was carried out in a <<genuinely intimidating scenario.>> The circumstances, it found, had been aggravated by the joint action of two or more people.”
The Supreme Court sentenced the men to 15 years, one of them was given 17 for stealing the victim’s phone. They cannot approach the victim within 500m for the next 20 years and they should receive $113,000 in compensation.
According to Magistrate Aviles, “the ruling of the High [Court] marks a before and after in the treatment of sexual violence.” This case gives “legal recognition to feminism” and paves the way for the “only yes is yes” movement. It also consolidates judging with a gender perspective in Spain’s Supreme Court, as well as the prosecution’s office.eldiario.es
As established by the Istanbul Convention, sexual offenses must be analyzed based on consent, anything that is not a yes is a no and, therefore, a crime, Magistrate Aviles said. She asks for a reform to the criminal code to adapt the Istanbul Convention so that consent is at the center of sexual crimes, instead of violence and intimidation.
When asked about what conclusions could be drawn from this ruling, she stated that the most important thing is that feminism has been given the judicial recognition it deserves. It will give victims the courage to come forward, they will feel acknowledged.
Moreover, beyond this case, this ruling will “generate important changes in the classification of sexual violence as gender-based violence, or the modification of the criminal code to adapt it to the requirements of the Istanbul Convention assuming active sexual consent as a key typifying element.”
“This ruling suggests that the active consent and behavior of the victim is being given value.”Hon. Lucía Aviles, eldiario.es
Regarding consent, Magistrate Aviles states that it can be given explicitly or implicitly. The key is for society to internalize that, legally, not doing anything is not consenting, it is a way of resisting, it is survival.
Spain has also introduced a state pact against gender-based violence to address the need for gender-based violence training in all jurisdictional orders.
The Supreme Court is doing great judicial work, it is integrating gender perspective to the criminal code through the interpretative route. It is carving a new, more protective, jurisprudence with a view that was lacking until now. The criminal codes must be written in such a way as to exclude interpretation without a gender perspective. Thus, the application would be more egalitarian, coherent and fair for the whole of society. The gender perspective helps us discover the invisibility of systemic gender asymmetries.AMJE President, Hon. Gloria Poyatos for elmundo.es