Alvaro Barrientos / AP
The northern Spanish city of Pamplona opened at the weekend its famous run of the bullfight, a nine-day traditional event that draws thousands of spectators coming to see people, dodging bulls that run into tight streets.
The festival makes the Pamplona population of nearly 200,000 residents jump to about a million visitors and is considered one of Spain's biggest tourist attractions.
This year, however, events organizers take extra measures to counter persistent concerns about women being sexually assaulted during the festival. 19659008] It is the latest movement of festival planners in responding to a scandal that swallowed the festival after an 18-year-old woman was beaten at the festival in 2016. The case released mass protests and helped ignite a Spanish version of #MeToo movement , with supporters around Spain adopting the slogan # Cuéntalo, or "telling your story."
At this year's festival the police are strengthening surveillance, creating boo ths where women can receive resources related to sexual assault and launch a dedicated mobile phone app for women to report abuse.
Last month, Spain's Supreme Court sentenced five men – who called themselves "la manada" or "wolf package" for 15 years in prison over rape.
And despite how the high-profile case focused new attention on the issue of sexual assault on the festival, reports of abuse of women continued. For years, the authorities have been struggling to identify alleged perpetrators of sexual assault in the midst of the large crowds of revelers stuck in the narrow streets of the Spanish city, not to mention how the raucous event itself is chaotic and dangerous. The Associated Press reported that five people were hospitalized with bull-related injuries after the year's open bull runs alone.
But the new measures this year are meant to slow down sexual assaults and make women participating in the event safer. Last year, there were 25 incidents, according to The Guardian. The number was down from 40 allegations of sexual assault reported in 2017.
The persistent problem led the organizers this year to intensify and safety efforts that will include local and national police and officers from France and Italy.
festival, Pamplona's city council declared its "commitment to continue working for a festival where men and women can freely and safely enjoy themselves," The Guardian reported.
The new effort to combat sexual assault, the city council said, is aimed at treating sexual aggression in a "coordinated and consistent manner."
Years of public war during the 2016 event, women's rights activists hope that changes will be adopted without new monitoring and enforcement at the festival.
Carmen Calvo Poyato, Spanish Acting Deputy Prime Minister, has promised to revise the Spanish Sexual Assault Law to clarify consent in rape tests, evidence that Spain's version of the #MeToo Movement is a real influence on lawmakers, wrote Eloise Barry in a statement in The Guardian.
"The injustice in the wolf pack is fixed and it has empowered a generation of women," she wrote.