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CRIME

Settling debt with oral sex is ‘legal’, Spain’s Constitutional Court rules

Spain’s Constitutional Court has rejected a woman’s appeal against a sentence that did not consider it a crime for a former relative to ask her for oral sex as a means of paying back €15,000 she owed him.

constitutional court spain
Spain's Constitutional Court ruled that the woman's appeal did not justify "special constitutional significance". Photo: K3T0/Wikipedia

In a bizarre legal case, Spain’s Constitutional Court has rejected the appeal of a Spanish woman who filed a sexual abuse and coercion complaint against her ex-brother-in-law at the Provincial Court of Palma de Mallorca in late December. 

The woman, 38, told the regional judge she had felt forced to perform oral sex on her former relative after he requested that she pay him back €15,000 she owed with fellatio.

She explained how due to financial difficulties she had asked her ex-husband’s brother, with whom she’d maintained a good relationship, to transfer the money to her account, something he agreed to do without initially stipulating when and how she should pay him back. 

At a later date, the man reportedly told her that due to the favour she owed, she had to give him “two or three blow jobs a week and be his floozy whilst the debt was outstanding”, something she felt “psychologically obliged to do” and went ahead with on five occasions.  

The accused, 58, maintained his innocence, arguing that they’d reached “a deal to have sexual relations in return for lending her €15,000 without interest” and that “demanding compliance with a previously accepted deal does not constitute a crime”.

He told the court that when his ex-sister-in-law changed her mind about the sexual encounters and he asked her for financial reimbursement instead, only then dud she decide to file a complaint. The woman for her part also accused her former relative of sending her a letter in which he wrote “either you pay or I’ll sue you”.

The Balearic judge found no evidence of sexual abuse or coercion, concluding that “it was a freely agreed relationship” between the two and that the arrangement ceased “when there was no consent” on the woman’s behalf, without this opposition having “any consequence other than claiming the debt”.

When the plaintiff then decided to appeal the matter at Spain’s Constitutional Court, judges again washed their hands of it, arguing that the case did not justify “special constitutional significance”, one of the requirements that protection claims must meet in order to be accepted.

In other words, Spain’s Constitutional Court, an independent body from the State which has the final say on all matters relating to fundamental rights and breaches of them, doesn’t necessarily consider that paying back financial debt in sexual favours is illegal if agreed to by both parties.

For some legal sources, the fact that they’ve shelved the appeal does not mean that Spain’s Constitutional Court endorses oral sex as a form of payment as they have not actually delivered any verdict on the matter.

The same applies to the Balearic high court’s decision, as their ruling referred to whether the man’s actions represented sexual abuse or coercion, not wether sexual acts are a legal means of debt payment. 

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CRIME

Spain investigates mysterious ‘needle spiking’ attacks on women in nightclubs

Spanish police are investigating a string of cases of women being injected with possibly spiked syringes in crowded clubs, following similar incidents in Britain and France. However, no chemical trace has been found yet in the victims.

Spain investigates mysterious 'needle spiking' attacks on women in nightclubs

The worrying trend of ‘needle spiking’ (pinchazos in Spanish) in bars and nightclubs that has been seen across Europe in recent weeks has reached Spain.

The strange attacks, the first of which reportedly happened in October 2021 in the Scottish city of Dundee, can cause sudden dizziness, memory loss and then, usually the morning after, bruises caused by what experts believe are needle pricks.

In Spain, the first reports of these needle spiking attacks have been in the Basque Country, Catalonia, Andalusia, Aragon and Cantabria.

The Ertzaintza (Basque police) are investigating as many as a dozen neede spikings in bars and restaurants across the northern region in the last two weeks alone, while national police in Andalusia are investigating two women claiming to have been victims of ‘chemical submission’ due to needle spiking in a nightclub in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz.

Catalonia and the Basque Country are the regions where the largest number of cases have been reported so far, and the complaints are familiar: young women who feel a prick or sharp pain while dancing or waiting at the bar in a cramped environment, and then feel dizzy and disorientated and have a physical injection mark on their body.

Often the needle pricks are accompanied by memory loss.

Social panic

Worrying though the attacks are, it must be noted that scientists have only detected one case in Spain (in the northern region of Asturias) where the victim’s body was found to have a toxic substance present.

The victim in question was a minor, so it is unclear if they were in a bar or nightclub at the time. The 13-year-old girl reported a sharp pain in her leg, and later tested positive for liquid ecstasy after analysis at the Cabueñes Hospital.

But this seems to be the exception.

Physical needle pricks without any chemical or toxic traces have been the case in almost every other case across Europe.

By January 2022, in Britain there had already been already 1,300 complaints about needle attacks. Of these, zero cases were confirmed with chemical evidence.

In France, of 800 or so reported needle spiking cases, not a single chemical trace was found in any of the victims tests.

In the medical analysis of Spanish victims, according to police sources, no traces of toxic substances have been found besides the single case in Dijon.

Mireia Ventura, head of analysis at Energy Control, said in the Spanish press this week that “we do not deny that there are aggressions with something sharp, but this story that they [the victims] are inoculated drugs with a syringe in nightclubs sounds fanciful to us, there are several pieces that do not fit in.”

Not a single syringe has been found on any premises nor have any culprits been identified.

None of the dozens of recent victims in Spain have tested positive for toxic substances in medical tests, nor have they suffered sexual assault, harassment or theft.

As sociologist Robert Bartholomew wrote in ‘Psychology Today’, “anyone who believes she was drugged while on the go must be taken seriously and her claims thoroughly investigated. However, a recent wave of news involving syringes has all the characteristics of a social panic.”

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