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Friday, September 30, 2022

Spanish Court Dismisses Case of Women Filmed Urinating

Judge Pablo Muñoz Vázquez dismissed the case on the grounds that because the videos were recorded in a public place they cannot be deemed criminal

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd
Journalist

SPAIN: A Spanish court has caused an outcry by dismissing a case that involved women being secretly filmed urinating in public and the videos then being posted on porn websites.

Strategically placed hidden cameras recorded at least 100 women, including minors urinating in a side street due to lack of facilities at the A Maruxaina local festival in the northwestern town of Cervo in 2019.

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In many cases, the footage showed close-ups of women’s faces and genitals, which were then uploaded on porn websites, some requiring payment to view.

Also Read: Thousands of Women March across Latin America for Abortion Rights

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In 2020, those affected took legal action, calling for the recordings, whose author remains unknown, to be investigated on the grounds that their right to privacy had been violated.

A local judge, Pablo Muñoz Vázquez, shelved the case, triggering an appeal led by the Women for Equality Burela (Bumei) association.

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The same judge has now confirmed his initial decision not to proceed as the recordings were made “in the middle of the public thoroughfare and not in a private space reserved for the knowledge of other people,” so it does not consider a crime against privacy.

Adding to the shocking reaction, the judge also decided that there was “no intention to violate the physical or moral resistance” of the women affected, hence refused to acknowledge the crime against moral integrity.

The court concluded that obtaining images without consent on public roads cannot be prosecuted by criminal means, but must be approached by the civil route.

The decision not to continue with the case has provoked protests in Lugo where thousands of women marched for their rights and an online campaign using the hashtag #XustizaMaruxaina (Justice Maruxaina) has started.

The survivors and rights group, Women for Equality Burela (Bumei), has filed an appeal against the order to dismiss the case.

“We are not going to give up on our efforts. All we ask is that justice is done and that these events do not go unpunished because it would create a very dangerous precedent,” Mary Fraga, president of the organisation told El Pais.

The case has also entered the political arena, with Equality Minister Irene Montero speaking out.

This is not the first time a judicial decision has triggered a backlash from women’s groups.

Gender rights have been the subject of fierce debate between left and right in Spain in recent years.

In 2018, a court in Pamplona sparked mass protests by deeming an assault on a young woman by five men, nicknamed La Manada (the Wolfpack), sexual abuse rather than rape.

The Supreme court eventually overturned the verdict, finding the men guilty of rape and increasing their jail sentences from nine years to 15 years.

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