Warning against Spain’s rising sexual assault came amidst an ongoing rape case of 3 young American women who were raped in the Murica, Spain, and haven’t yet received justice as the suspects deny charges.
The US Embassy in Spain cited an increase in sexual assault among young American visitors and Spanish students, in an unexpected warning about safety for visitors in the country.
The warning is a direct reply to a sharp increase in the reports of sexual abuse in the country over the last five years. The human rights organization Geoviolencia Sexual reported an increase in assault cases from 14 in 2017 to 73 in 2019.
The US warning goes on to state actions that the visitors can take to reduce the risks of being assaulted while travelling. Among them is the instruction to “Drink responsibly”, and to “Use the buddy system” to avoid travelling alone. The warning also mentions the national emergency number (911 in America) for the country, 112, and provided a list of English-speaking attorneys for foreign visitors. One might think, “that won’t happen to me”, but the prevalence of not just sexual assault, but of crime amongst tourists in general is higher than imagined.
The BBC reports that, “In January, three young US women alleged they were sexually assaulted at a New Year’s Eve party in the southern Spanish city of Murcia.” The case is still ongoing and all current suspects have denied any wrongdoing.
This all was followed by a protest in November, where thousands gathered in the streets across Spain after a court in Barcelona mitigated a gang-raping sentence of a 14-year old girl, down to a lesser sentence of sexual abuse. The court’s decision was reportedly due following the victim being in an “unconscious state”.
The United States Embassy in Madrid has especially issued the travel warning as the Spanish judiciary is flawed to a large extent as far as cases of sexual abuse are concerned. The loopholes came into focus following the case of 3 Afghan men accused of raping 3 American sisters in Murcia, southeastern Spain. Investigations into the New Year’s Eve rape incident are still ongoing with the suspects denying charges against them and the victims feeling helpless.
The American government is taking all possible actions to safeguard its citizens from any mishap that might require them to deal with the Spanish judiciary. The sharp increase in the cases of sexual abuse in the country has become one of the major concerns, besides other crimes. The embassy issued travel warning to ensure that every American citizen that visits Spain, remains extra cautious and conscious about their surroundings to avoid getting embroiled in a case of sexual abuse, especially.
A study published in Crime Prevention and Community Safety, found that “tourism does contribute to an increase in crime, and can provide certain conditions for criminals where the gains from crimes against tourists are high and the risks are low.” It goes on to state that since the reports of crime against tourists damage the tourism industry of any given country, there is an incentive among tourism industry stakeholders to downplay the extent to which tourists become victims.
With a flawed judiciary as that of Spain, no country would want its citizens to put themselves in a situation that leaves them feeling helpless and betrayed in a foreign land. A country’s judicial system is supposed to keep people safe and give them the right to attain justice, when needed. Spain’s legal system, on the contrary, does the opposite by considering any case of sexual assault committed without an act of violence as ‘not’ a rape, making justice hard to obtain.