Thousands descended on the streets of Spain to show their opposition to a verdict which saw five men accused of gang-raping a 14-year-old cleared of the charge because she was in an “unconscious state”.

The Barcelona High Court convicted the men who took turns having sex with the child in a disused factory in a town called Manresa in the north-eastern region of Catalonia of a lesser offence of sexual abuse, rather than rape – because she was not conscious during the incident, and the perpetrators did not use violence or intimidation. 

Rape is defined in Spanish law as involving specific acts of violence, such as being punched, hit or threatened with a weapon.

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The court’s verdict, which the men reportedly intend to appeal, has rekindled long-standing anger surrounding the country’s laws, and protests took place in more than 40 cities across the country on Monday night.

Many demonstrators, the majority of whom were women, wore purple scarves or held purple umbrellas. The colour purple is linked to feminist movements across the world and can often be glimpsed during protests. 

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World news in pictures

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World news in pictures

1/50 5 November 2019

Smoke rises from a fire in downtown Lagos, Nigeria. Firefighters worked hard to try and extinguish a fire at the Balogun market. Thick black smoke and flames shot from the five-story buildings as fire trucks attempted to get access

2/50 4 November 2019

Women run down a sand dune as they take part in the desert trek “Rose Trip Maroc” in the erg Chebbi near Merzouga. It is a female-oriented trek where teams of three must travel through the southern Moroccan Sahara desert with a compass, a map and a topographical reporter

3/50 3 November 2019

Riot police descend an escalator inside the City Plaza mall in Hong Kong after a bloody knife fight wounded six people there. A local pro-democracy politician had his ear bitten off during another chaotic day of political unrest in the city

4/50 2 November 2019

People participate in the celebration of the ‘muerteadas de Jalapa del Valle’, as part of the Day of the Dead in Mexico

5/50 1 November 2019

Firefighters work to control flames from a backfire during the Maria fire in Santa Paula, California

6/50 31 October 2019

Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, over the Vestrahorn mountain in the east of Iceland

7/50 30 October 2019

A model presents a creation at the show Heaven Gaia by Xiong Ying during the China Fashion Week in Beijing. The fashion event runs from 25 October to 2 November

8/50 29 October 2019

Hindu devotees collect rice as offerings on ‘Annakut’ or ‘Govardhan Puja’ festival at the Madan Mohan temple in Kolkata. People in large numbers gather at the temple to collect the rice offerings in the belief that it will keep them in good health and they’ll never face poverty or scarcity of food

9/50 28 October 2019

Authorities investigate after a Port Authority bus was caught in a sinkhole in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

10/50 27 October 2019

South Africa players celebrate after beating Wales in their Rugby World Cup semi-final match. The Springboks will face England in next Saturday’s final following fly-half Handre Pollard’s match-winning penalty four minutes from time. The match ended 19-16

11/50 26 October 2019

Participants from Thailand pose in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall as they take part in the annual gay pride parade in Taipei. Some two hundred thousand revellers marched through Taipei in a riot of rainbow colours and celebration as Taiwan held its first pride parade since making history in Asia by legalising gay marriage

12/50 25 October 2019

A girl enjoys a ball bath as she is being photographed at the made-for-Instagram museum ‘Cali Dreams’ in Dusseldorf, Germany. No artworks are shown in this museum, rather each visitor himself becomes an artwork by staging himself in front of one of the 25 sceneries. Cali Dreams is initially open for three months. After this test phase, however, the museum is planned as a long-term project

13/50 24 October 2019

A fire lorry speeds towards a rampant wildfire near Geyserville, California

14/50 23 October 2019

Protesters facing Lebanese army soldiers wave national flags in the area of Jal al-Dib in the northern outskirts of Beirut. A week of unprecedented street protests against the political class showed no signs of abating, despite the army moving to reopen key roads. Protests were sparked on October 17 by a proposed tax on WhatsApp and other messaging apps

15/50 22 October 2019

Liberal leader and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to supporters beside his wife Sophie after the federal election at the Palais des Congres in Montreal. He managed to hold on to power, albeit of a minority government, in one of the most divisive elections in the country’s history

16/50 21 October 2019

A convoy of US vehicles is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq

17/50 20 October 2019

Japan players go over to thank their fans after South Africa beat them in the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup. Makazole Mapimpi double ended the hosts’ dreams in Tokyo 3-26. The Springboks will now face Wales in the semi-finals for a place in the final

18/50 19 October 2019

Archaeologists remove the cover of an ancient painted coffin discovered at Al-Asasif Necropolis in the Vally of Kings in Luxor, Egypt

19/50 18 October 2019

A protester throws a tire on a fire to block the highway north of Beirut, Lebanon. Protesters, mainly civil activists, started demonstrating in the downtown area on 17 October, condemning proposed taxes in the 2020 budget. An unexpected addition to impose a daily fee for using WhatsApp calls caused outrage. However, according to the Telecommunications Minister Mohamed Choucair, the charge will not make it through the government palace after the impact it has made on the streets

20/50 17 October 2019

Children watch as army tanks are transported on trucks in the outskirts of the town of Akcakale, in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border of Syria

21/50 16 October 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse amongst the first snow at Mouth Paektu

22/50 15 October 2019

Protesters create a burning barricade after the Supreme Court in Madrid handed lengthy prison sentences to nine of the detained Catalonian leaders for up to 13 years each

23/50 14 October 2019

Protestors light their torches during a peaceful rally in central Hong Kong’s business district. The protests that started in June over a now-shelved extradition bill have since snowballed into an anti-China campaign amid anger over what many view as Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s autonomy that was granted when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997

24/50 13 October 2019

Japan players celebrate victory after beating Scotland 28-21 to reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup for the first ever time. The hosts head coach Jamie Joseph paid tribute to those who lost their lives in Typhoon Hagibis

25/50 12 October 2019

Surging waves generated by typhoon Hagibis hit the seashore in Mihama, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Hagibis is the strongest storm to hit in six decades and battered the country’s main island with torrential rain and violent winds
Firefighters battle the Saddleridge fire in Sylmar, California

27/50 10 October 2019

People run to take cover after mortars fired from Syria, in Akcakale, Turkey. An Associated Press journalist said at least two government buildings were hit by the mortars in Sanliurfa province’s border town of Akcakale and at least two people were wounded

28/50 9 October 2019

Policemen climb over a wall close to the site of a shooting where at least two people were killed at multiple locations in Germany, including near a synagogue in the city of Halle

29/50 8 October 2019

This multi-exposure picture shows USA’s Simone Biles performing on the beam during the women’s team final at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart

30/50 7 October 2019

Extinction Rebellion activists block an intersection in Melbourne, Australia

31/50 6 October 2019

Protesters hold smoke grenades as they gather in central Kiev to demand broader autonomy for separatist territories, part of a plan to end a war with Russian-backed fighters

32/50 5 October 2019

Anti-government protesters rush to an injured man during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq

33/50 4 October 2019

Footage of a hugely rare polka dot zebra has been captured in Kenya. The foal was photographed in the Maasai Mara National Reserve

34/50 3 October 2019

A devotee dressed as the Hindu deity Maha Kali performs during Navratri festival celebrations in Ajmer in Rajasthan state, India

35/50 2 October 2019

A gust of wind lifts the cassock of Pope Francis during the weekly general audience at St.Peter’s square in the Vatican

36/50 1 October 2019

Protesters clash with an Iraqi riot police vehicle during a demonstration against state corruption and poor services in Baghdad

37/50 30 September 2019

A student protester throws a burning stick at riot police officers during a clash in Jakarta, Indonesia

38/50 29 September 2019

An anti-government protester wearing a mask depicting U.S. President Donald Trump is pushed away by riot police during a demonstration at Causeway Bay district in Hong Kong, China

39/50 28 September 2019

A Japan fan smiles before the Japan v Ireland Rugby World Cup match in Shizuoka, Japan

40/50 27 September 2019

The Duke of Sussex walks through a minefield in Dirico, Angola, during a visit to see the work of landmine clearance charity the Halo Trust, on day five of the royal tour of Africa

41/50 26 September 2019

A policeman stands on a blocked road in Le Petit-Quevilly as smoke billows from a Lubrizol factory classified SEVESO high-threshold site. Residents of twelve towns including Rouen have been asked to stay at home after a fire broke out according to the prefect of Normandy

42/50 25 September 2019

Participants dressed in traditional attire pose for pictures during rehearsals for Garba, a folk dance, in preparations for the upcoming Navratri, a festival during which devotees worship the Hindu goddess Durga, in Ahmedabad, India

43/50 24 September 2019

A protester fires at riot police during university students’ protest outside the Indonesian Parliament in Jakarta

44/50 23 September 2019

Russia’s Soyuz-FG booster rocket with the Soyuz MS-15 space ship that will carry new crew to the International Space Station (ISS) is transported from its hangar to the launch pad at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The new Soyuz mission is scheduled on 25 September with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, US astronaut Jessica Meir and United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri

45/50 22 September 2019

An anti-government protester sets a fire during a rally outside the Mong Kok police station in Hong Kong

46/50 21 September 2019

New Zealand players perform the haka before their opening Rugby World Cup match against South Africa in Japan. The All Blacks secured a 23-13 victory over their rivals

47/50 20 September 2019

Thousands of school students and protesters gather in The Domain ahead of a climate strike rally in Sydney. Millions of people around the world are taking part in protests demanding action on climate issues. The Global Strike For Climate is being held only days ahead of the scheduled United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York

48/50 19 September 2019

A pedestrian walks by an advertising installation for the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup in Oita, on the eve of the start of the tournament

49/50 18 September 2019

Two flamingos at Dresden Zoo in Germany

50/50 17 September 2019

Strong wind and waves roll in at Nordre Strandvej in Denmark

1/50 5 November 2019

Smoke rises from a fire in downtown Lagos, Nigeria. Firefighters worked hard to try and extinguish a fire at the Balogun market. Thick black smoke and flames shot from the five-story buildings as fire trucks attempted to get access

2/50 4 November 2019

Women run down a sand dune as they take part in the desert trek “Rose Trip Maroc” in the erg Chebbi near Merzouga. It is a female-oriented trek where teams of three must travel through the southern Moroccan Sahara desert with a compass, a map and a topographical reporter

3/50 3 November 2019

Riot police descend an escalator inside the City Plaza mall in Hong Kong after a bloody knife fight wounded six people there. A local pro-democracy politician had his ear bitten off during another chaotic day of political unrest in the city

4/50 2 November 2019

People participate in the celebration of the ‘muerteadas de Jalapa del Valle’, as part of the Day of the Dead in Mexico

5/50 1 November 2019

Firefighters work to control flames from a backfire during the Maria fire in Santa Paula, California

6/50 31 October 2019

Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, over the Vestrahorn mountain in the east of Iceland

7/50 30 October 2019

A model presents a creation at the show Heaven Gaia by Xiong Ying during the China Fashion Week in Beijing. The fashion event runs from 25 October to 2 November

8/50 29 October 2019

Hindu devotees collect rice as offerings on ‘Annakut’ or ‘Govardhan Puja’ festival at the Madan Mohan temple in Kolkata. People in large numbers gather at the temple to collect the rice offerings in the belief that it will keep them in good health and they’ll never face poverty or scarcity of food

9/50 28 October 2019

Authorities investigate after a Port Authority bus was caught in a sinkhole in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

10/50 27 October 2019

South Africa players celebrate after beating Wales in their Rugby World Cup semi-final match. The Springboks will face England in next Saturday’s final following fly-half Handre Pollard’s match-winning penalty four minutes from time. The match ended 19-16

11/50 26 October 2019

Participants from Thailand pose in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall as they take part in the annual gay pride parade in Taipei. Some two hundred thousand revellers marched through Taipei in a riot of rainbow colours and celebration as Taiwan held its first pride parade since making history in Asia by legalising gay marriage

12/50 25 October 2019

A girl enjoys a ball bath as she is being photographed at the made-for-Instagram museum ‘Cali Dreams’ in Dusseldorf, Germany. No artworks are shown in this museum, rather each visitor himself becomes an artwork by staging himself in front of one of the 25 sceneries. Cali Dreams is initially open for three months. After this test phase, however, the museum is planned as a long-term project

13/50 24 October 2019

A fire lorry speeds towards a rampant wildfire near Geyserville, California

14/50 23 October 2019

Protesters facing Lebanese army soldiers wave national flags in the area of Jal al-Dib in the northern outskirts of Beirut. A week of unprecedented street protests against the political class showed no signs of abating, despite the army moving to reopen key roads. Protests were sparked on October 17 by a proposed tax on WhatsApp and other messaging apps

15/50 22 October 2019

Liberal leader and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to supporters beside his wife Sophie after the federal election at the Palais des Congres in Montreal. He managed to hold on to power, albeit of a minority government, in one of the most divisive elections in the country’s history

16/50 21 October 2019

A convoy of US vehicles is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq

17/50 20 October 2019

Japan players go over to thank their fans after South Africa beat them in the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup. Makazole Mapimpi double ended the hosts’ dreams in Tokyo 3-26. The Springboks will now face Wales in the semi-finals for a place in the final

18/50 19 October 2019

Archaeologists remove the cover of an ancient painted coffin discovered at Al-Asasif Necropolis in the Vally of Kings in Luxor, Egypt

19/50 18 October 2019

A protester throws a tire on a fire to block the highway north of Beirut, Lebanon. Protesters, mainly civil activists, started demonstrating in the downtown area on 17 October, condemning proposed taxes in the 2020 budget. An unexpected addition to impose a daily fee for using WhatsApp calls caused outrage. However, according to the Telecommunications Minister Mohamed Choucair, the charge will not make it through the government palace after the impact it has made on the streets

20/50 17 October 2019

Children watch as army tanks are transported on trucks in the outskirts of the town of Akcakale, in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border of Syria

21/50 16 October 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse amongst the first snow at Mouth Paektu

22/50 15 October 2019

Protesters create a burning barricade after the Supreme Court in Madrid handed lengthy prison sentences to nine of the detained Catalonian leaders for up to 13 years each

23/50 14 October 2019

Protestors light their torches during a peaceful rally in central Hong Kong’s business district. The protests that started in June over a now-shelved extradition bill have since snowballed into an anti-China campaign amid anger over what many view as Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s autonomy that was granted when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997

24/50 13 October 2019

Japan players celebrate victory after beating Scotland 28-21 to reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup for the first ever time. The hosts head coach Jamie Joseph paid tribute to those who lost their lives in Typhoon Hagibis

25/50 12 October 2019

Surging waves generated by typhoon Hagibis hit the seashore in Mihama, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Hagibis is the strongest storm to hit in six decades and battered the country’s main island with torrential rain and violent winds
Firefighters battle the Saddleridge fire in Sylmar, California

27/50 10 October 2019

People run to take cover after mortars fired from Syria, in Akcakale, Turkey. An Associated Press journalist said at least two government buildings were hit by the mortars in Sanliurfa province’s border town of Akcakale and at least two people were wounded

28/50 9 October 2019

Policemen climb over a wall close to the site of a shooting where at least two people were killed at multiple locations in Germany, including near a synagogue in the city of Halle

29/50 8 October 2019

This multi-exposure picture shows USA’s Simone Biles performing on the beam during the women’s team final at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart

30/50 7 October 2019

Extinction Rebellion activists block an intersection in Melbourne, Australia

31/50 6 October 2019

Protesters hold smoke grenades as they gather in central Kiev to demand broader autonomy for separatist territories, part of a plan to end a war with Russian-backed fighters

32/50 5 October 2019

Anti-government protesters rush to an injured man during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq

33/50 4 October 2019

Footage of a hugely rare polka dot zebra has been captured in Kenya. The foal was photographed in the Maasai Mara National Reserve

34/50 3 October 2019

A devotee dressed as the Hindu deity Maha Kali performs during Navratri festival celebrations in Ajmer in Rajasthan state, India

35/50 2 October 2019

A gust of wind lifts the cassock of Pope Francis during the weekly general audience at St.Peter’s square in the Vatican

36/50 1 October 2019

Protesters clash with an Iraqi riot police vehicle during a demonstration against state corruption and poor services in Baghdad

37/50 30 September 2019

A student protester throws a burning stick at riot police officers during a clash in Jakarta, Indonesia

38/50 29 September 2019

An anti-government protester wearing a mask depicting U.S. President Donald Trump is pushed away by riot police during a demonstration at Causeway Bay district in Hong Kong, China

39/50 28 September 2019

A Japan fan smiles before the Japan v Ireland Rugby World Cup match in Shizuoka, Japan

40/50 27 September 2019

The Duke of Sussex walks through a minefield in Dirico, Angola, during a visit to see the work of landmine clearance charity the Halo Trust, on day five of the royal tour of Africa

41/50 26 September 2019

A policeman stands on a blocked road in Le Petit-Quevilly as smoke billows from a Lubrizol factory classified SEVESO high-threshold site. Residents of twelve towns including Rouen have been asked to stay at home after a fire broke out according to the prefect of Normandy

42/50 25 September 2019

Participants dressed in traditional attire pose for pictures during rehearsals for Garba, a folk dance, in preparations for the upcoming Navratri, a festival during which devotees worship the Hindu goddess Durga, in Ahmedabad, India

43/50 24 September 2019

A protester fires at riot police during university students’ protest outside the Indonesian Parliament in Jakarta

44/50 23 September 2019

Russia’s Soyuz-FG booster rocket with the Soyuz MS-15 space ship that will carry new crew to the International Space Station (ISS) is transported from its hangar to the launch pad at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The new Soyuz mission is scheduled on 25 September with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, US astronaut Jessica Meir and United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri

45/50 22 September 2019

An anti-government protester sets a fire during a rally outside the Mong Kok police station in Hong Kong

46/50 21 September 2019

New Zealand players perform the haka before their opening Rugby World Cup match against South Africa in Japan. The All Blacks secured a 23-13 victory over their rivals

47/50 20 September 2019

Thousands of school students and protesters gather in The Domain ahead of a climate strike rally in Sydney. Millions of people around the world are taking part in protests demanding action on climate issues. The Global Strike For Climate is being held only days ahead of the scheduled United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York

48/50 19 September 2019

A pedestrian walks by an advertising installation for the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup in Oita, on the eve of the start of the tournament

49/50 18 September 2019

Two flamingos at Dresden Zoo in Germany

50/50 17 September 2019

Strong wind and waves roll in at Nordre Strandvej in Denmark

Posters which said “It’s not abuse, it’s rape” could be seen in the crowds and the hashtag #EnoughPatriarchalJustice gained increasing traction on social media.

Cecilia Gomez, a women’s rights activist in Barcelona, voiced fury about the verdict and said women in the country were “raging” over it.

“The verdict is more than upsetting. It is absolutely horrific,” Ms Gomez, who is part of Women’s March Barcelona, told The Independent.

“How can we talk about a situation where a 14-year-old girl was unconscious as not being rape? I do not understand how that could be something that is contemplated by the law. The assumption is that she is agreeing to sex because she cannot protest.”

The campaigner added: “It is unacceptable and unconscionable that this would be the verdict. She was also a child. She is too young to be able to consent to sexual relations in the first place. The number one law that needs to change in Spain is that sexual contact needs to happen with express consent.

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“The protests are absolutely necessary and are the only thing which are going to change the needle on this. People are raging.” 

The court said the victim, who previously told the court that one of the men had a gun, was drunk and unconscious during the incident and “could not accept or reject the sexual relations”.

Barcelona’s High Court sentenced the five men to ten to 12 years in jail – considerably less time than a conviction for rape, which would have carried a sentence of between 15 and 20 years.

“The attack on the victim’s sexual integrity was extremely severe and especially denigrating and what’s more, was against a minor in a situation of distress,” the judge said.

Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, tweeted: “Another outrageous sentence. [The judge] doesn’t want to understand that only YES is YES,” 

The case has become known as the “Manada de Manresa”, or Manresa wolf pack, because of the parallels it shares with another 2016 gang attack on a teenage woman which sparked national protests and an ongoing review of the country’s rape laws. The men called themselves La Manada – “the wolf pack”.

Headway on changing the rape laws in Spain has been stalled by wider political gridlock in the country despite mounting anger about the issue.