A court in Barcelona has acquitted five men over the rape of a 14-year-old girl because she was unconscious, and therefore no "violence or intimidation" took place, resulting in a lesser charge of sexual abuse.
CNN has reported how, under Spanish law, a sexual attack can only be classified as an assault or rape if the perpetrator uses violence or intimidation to subdue the victim. Due to the fact their victim was unconscious and therefore unable to resist, the five attackers received a lesser charge.
The incident took place following a party in 2016, at an abandoned factory in the town of Manresa, according to the report. The suspects took turns performing sex acts on the 14-year-old after she fell unconscious as a result of drugs and alcohol.
The court stated on its official website how the attack had to be classified as sexual abuse because "it has been proven that the victim, while the events took place [...] was in a state of unconsciousness" and therefore "could not accept or reject the sexual relations".
This is also despite the fact age of consent in the country is 16.
The Barcelona-based court still sentenced the abusers to 10-12 years behind bars and fined them €12,000 ($13,400). However, this case has put new pressure on the Spanish government to reclassify non-consensual sex acts.
Per the New York Post, the Barcelona court said in a press release: "The sexual attack on the victim was extremely intense and especially denigrating, and in addition, it was produced on a minor who was in a helpless situation."
Taking to Twitter to address the verdict, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said it is a "senseless verdict" and wrote: "I am not a judge and I do not know how many years in prison they deserve, what I do know is that it is not abuse, it is rape."
The Metro has reported that Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo has said that a modification in the law to make clear consent necessary has become a priority.
The international human rights group Equality Now tweeted:
"Spain must urgently amend rape law to include lack of consent, not just ‘use of violence’, in line with international human rights standards, eg Istanbul Convention, to ensure survivors of sexual violence are protected and perpetrators are prosecuted."