Pamplona has unveiled new plans to try and protect women from sexual assaults during the Spanish city’s famous bull-running festival, due to start next week.
For the first time, the council’s rulebook for participants warns specifically against “sexual assaults against women”, which have become increasingly common at the San Fermín event in northern Spain.
There are frequent reports of men groping women’s breasts during the opening street party, as well as cases of rape and sexual assault during the nine-day festival.
Hundreds of people took to the streets in protest last year after a 19-year-old British woman was sexually assaulted by a group of men in a bar lavatory during the celebrations.
The city has also taken action against men urinating in public – paining the walls with a special hydrophobic paint that bounces liquid back onto the offender.
Last year 76 people were caught and fined €300 (£250) each for urinating in Pamplona’s streets during the festival, but the council estimates that the damage from such “uncivil behavior” totaled around €10,000.
“Sexist attacks against women of any age and in all circumstances will be investigated and punished,” said Pamplona Mayor Joseba Asiron.
“San Fermín must be a festival which women can enjoy freely, safely and with complete equality”.
The council’s awareness campaign aims to help women protect themselves and persuade more victims and witnesses to report assaults.
Local police say that only four cases of sexual abuse were reported last year. “If you’re a woman, you know you are going to be groped for sure”, Ana, a 30-year-old from Navarre, told El Confidencial newspaper. “It’s normal to have your bottom felt up and then they take advantage of the crowd to slip away.”
Women are told to “walk confidently and occupy your space”, and shout “Fire!” to get the attention of bystanders if they are assaulted.
Witnesses to attacks, in particular men, are urged to intervene to prevent abuse, as well as reporting any such assaults.
San Fermín, a festival with medieval origins, was made world famous by Ernest Hemingway, who was a regular at the event between 1923 and his last visit in 1959.
After the opening street party on July 6, the following eight days begin with the early-morning running of bulls which chase daredevil participants through the city’s streets.
The last run in 2015 set a record, when six bulls from the famous Miura ranch covered the 875-metre route through Pamplona’s old quarter in 2.05 minutes. Sixteen runners have been killed by bulls since 1910.