Spanish court acquits Roma man of raping underage girl on 'cultural' grounds

By Phan Anh   June 3, 2024 | 07:05 pm PT
A man in Spain, who raped a 12-year-old girl, was acquitted by a court on the grounds of "cultural reality" of their Roma community.

A court in Ciudal Real ruled that the relationship between the man, who was 20 at the time, and the girl was "consensual within the framework of a romantic relationship" and that the two were "close in age and maturity," British newspaper The Telegraph reported.

The man said he did not know exactly how old the girl was, and only realized she was 12 when they went to a doctor regarding her pregnancy.

The doctor informed authorities after finding out she was a minor.

While prosecutors sought an 11-year jail sentence for raping a minor, the court instead said the relationship happened "in the cultural and social context of the Roma community, where marriages between very young people are frequent," Newsweek reported.

A few days earlier another man, who also had a sexual relationship with a Roma girl aged 12-15, had his jail sentence commuted as it was "normal for a 12-year-old girl to have sexual relations with an adult" in her culture.

While prosecutors had sought 37 years, the court handed down 11 years.

The ruling was deemed a "disgrace" by Beatriz Carrillo, director general of non-discrimination and anti-racism at Spain's Equalities Ministry, who said the penal code does not exclude Roma minors from its protection, The Telegraph reported.

Sara Giménez, director general of the Gypsy Secretariat Foundation (FSG), also told the newspaper Roma culture does not mean abuse or violation of rights, and that the recent rulings may promote negative stereotypes that are damaging.

Around 750,000 Roma people live in Spain, according to FSG.

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