Pamplona bull run tainted by reports of sexual violence

Annual San Fermn festival has seen four rapes, one attempted rape and 10 cases of sexual abuse reported over last six days

Pamplonas annual bull-running festival has again been marred by a series of alleged sexual assaults, with four rapes, one attempted rape and 10 cases of sexual abuse reported over the last six days.

Organisers of the San Fermn festival, in which hundreds of people race bulls through Pamplonas cobbled streets, have stepped up their campaign to combat sexual violence since 2008, when a young nurse was strangled and beaten to death.

This years festival, which began on 6 July, has already seen 15 people arrested over allegations of sexual assault. Among them are five men including a recent graduate of the Guardia Civil police force who were detained in connection with the alleged rape of a woman on Thursday night. The incident is thought to have been filmed on a mobile phone.

On Monday night, womens rights activists and other protesters crowded into the Plaza del Castillo, where one of the rapes is alleged to have taken place, to demonstrate against the attacks. It came four days after thousands of people staged a similar protest.

Pamplonas city councillor for public safety, Aritz Romeo, insisted the council was working to tackle the violence and had made it easier for women to report assaults. He suggested that the rise in attacks could be the result of increased reporting.

I dont think whats happening in Pamplona is different from whats happening in other cities at festival time, its just that weve opened up the channels of communication and there are 3,400 police officers [deployed] to catch attackers, he told El Pas.

In a statement, the council said it supported Mondays protest, adding that it was working to eliminate sexist attacks and to improve safety for women wherever they are.

It also called on residents and visitors to play their part in addressing the problem.

We urge those who are attacked to keep reporting it, we encourage other citizens to maintain an active approach to this kind of assault and to help report it, and we reject and condemn the attacks and stress that Pamplona will not tolerate sexist assaults, it said.

Last year, the mayor of Pamplona, Jose Asirn, said the sexual attacks had become a black stain on San Fermn.

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