THE CATALAN city of Badalona has been rocked by the alleged sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl, and which only came to light when a video of the incident began to circulate among youngsters.
The crime was allegedly perpetrated by a group of 14-year-olds, who are thought to have raped the victim at knifepoint in the bathrooms of a shopping mall in the city on November 5.
It has subsequently emerged that the girl asked for help from a security guard, who ignored her. The victim then returned home and said nothing to her family.
The length of time that elapsed between the alleged assault and the alarm being raised means that the security footage from the mall has now been erased. Under Spanish law, this happens in the time frame of one month, assuming that there are no criminal offences to be investigated via the recordings.
It was not until December 15 that the alarm was finally raised, when the girl’s brother came home from school claiming that his sister had taken part in a video of a sexual nature along with a number of boys. It was then that she told her family the full story of what had happened to her.
Perhaps most shocking of all is the fact that the video had been seen not just by other students, according to Spanish press reports, but also adults, none of whom denounced the content with the authorities.
When the parents alerted the police to the incident, they managed to locate the video and identify five of the six alleged participants in the attack.
Two of the suspects are aged over 14, and one of them – who already has a criminal record for sexual assault – has since been detained in a centre for minors. The other was released with conditions.
The three suspects aged under 14 cannot be prosecuted, but the regional authorities have opened an investigation into their situation. ‘If they did this, then something has gone wrong in their environment,’ government official Ester Cabanes told Spanish daily El Pais.
In a further twist to the story, the brother of the alleged victim has received death threats via his cellphone. The police have since been escorting him to school while the author of the messages has been jailed for six months.
According to figures from news agency EFE, the number of sexual assaults carried out by minors increased 58% between 2020 and 2021. The director of child policies at NGO Save the Children, Catalina Perazzo, told EFE that ‘a lack of sexual education’ is partly to blame, but also the consumption by minors of pornography from an every younger age.