The ‘wolf pack’ case inspired widespread anger and protests against sexual assault laws in Spain. But the anti-feminist backlash that followed has helped propel the far right to its biggest gains since Franco.

By Meaghan Beatley

In the early hours of 7 July 2016, surrounded by throngs of revellers dancing and drinking, an 18-year-old woman suddenly found herself alone. She was standing on Plaza del Castillo, a square in the centre of the northern Spanish city of Pamplona, which was hosting its annual festival, the running of the bulls.

The weeklong festival combines a religious celebration of the city’s patron saint, San Fermin, with the eponymous bull run – and copious amounts of alcohol. Every morning at the stroke of 8am, the bravest festivalgoers sprint ahead of a group of bulls leading them from the pen where they’re kept to the ring where they will die later that day. Then the drinking resumes. The festival has long had a reputation for bad behaviour – exasperated locals often complain about outsiders turning their town into a lawless city – and after photos of young women being groped by groups of men went viral in 2013, the city launched an anti-sexual assault campaign whose symbol, a red hand, was plastered across billboards, walls and buses. But the festival has not lost its somewhat seedy reputation. “People come here to fuck,” a hospital receptionist told me wearily, fanning herself against the July heat, when I attended last year.

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