A Spanish judge has shocked women’s rights groups by dismissing a case that involved women being secretly filmed urinating in public and the videos then being posted on porn websites.
Because of a lack of facilities, 80 women and girls were recorded urinating in a side street.
Hidden cameras caught them at the A Maruxaina local festival in the northwestern town of Cervo.
Close-ups of the women’s genitals and faces were shown in many cases.
It was uploaded to porn sites, some of which demanded payment to view.
When they discovered this, many of those affected filed a lawsuit in 2020, demanding that the recordings, whose author is unknown, be investigated on the grounds that their right to privacy had been violated.
‘I was just panicking’
The case was shelved by a local judge, Pablo Muoz Vázquez, prompting an appeal by the Women for Equality Burela (Bumei) organisation.
The same judge has now confirmed his initial decision not to proceed, claiming that because the videos were shot in public, they cannot be considered criminal.
According to court documents, the judge also determined that there was “no intention” to violate the women’s “physical or moral resistance.”
“I was just panicking,” Jenniffer, one of the women filmed during the 2019 local festival, said.
She recalled being informed by a friend that video of her had been uploaded to a porn site. “Then, when I saw the video, I started crying, I was really embarrassed, and I didn’t know what to do.”
Jenniffer, like many others who have been affected, sought therapy afterward. However, the most recent judicial decision has added to the agony.
“It irritates me so much,” she said. “They’re basically saying it’s fine if someone films you on the street and then posts it on a porn site and makes money off of it.”
Ana Garca of the Bumei association warns that this case may set a precedent, giving those who make such recordings impunity.
“Just because you’re in a public space doesn’t mean that filming intimate images and then distributing them isn’t a crime,” she explained.
Protests and an online campaign using the hashtag #XustizaMaruxaina have erupted in response to the decision not to pursue the case further (Justice Maruxaina).
The case has also made political headlines, with Equality Minister Irene Montero weighing in.
Gender rights have been a source of contention between the left and right in Spain in recent years, and this is not the first time a judicial decision has sparked a backlash from women’s organisations.
In 2018, a Pamplona court sparked mass protests by ruling that an assault on a young woman by five men known as La Manada (the Wolfpack) was sexual abuse rather than rape.
The verdict was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court, which found the men guilty of rape and increased their prison sentences from nine to fifteen years.
The women involved in the A Maruxaina case have filed another appeal, this time before the provincial court in Lugo, in the hope that the case will finally be investigated.