False: “69% of sex offenders who commit gang rape in Spain are foreigners”

by Jon Larrachea

On 13 February 2020, Santiago Abascal (leader of far-right wing VOX political party in Spain) claimed in an interview in the Spanish public TV broadcaster (RTVE) that almost 70% of gang rapes in Spain are committed by foreigners. This claim is false. 

Santiago Abascal is a Spanish politician that currently is the leader of the political party VOX, the main far-right wing party in Spain. VOX defends in its principles that one of their goals is the defense of the “promotion of patriotism” and the “recognition of national sovereignty corresponds to the Spanish people”. This kind of principles have made this party propose several anti-immigration measures. Abascal is one of the founders of the party, which started its political activity in 2013. Since the creation of the party, he has been leading it, being a main character in the rise of popularity of the formation. 

The rise of ideologically similar parties throughout Europe gave VOX their first electoral success in national elections on April 28, 2019. The party became the fifth more voted, and could enter for the very first time in the Spanish Parliament. In the same year, national elections were held again on November 10th, as there was no agreement to have a coalition government after the April results. VOX then improved their results and became the third most voted party. The statement made by Abascal was collected in an interview on February 2020, but the leader of VOX also stated similar quotes during the electoral campaigns in 2019.

Claim

In this case, Santiago Abascal was interviewed in the Telediario (Daily News) of channel called La Uno, from Spanish public broadcaster Radio Televisión Española (Spanish Televisión and Radio). Some of the topics treated during the interview were gender violence and immigration, as some of the most known measures that this party has proposed during the last year were related to both topics. During the interview, Abascal is shown a video of himself, explaining the mentioned claim.

Video of the interview (claim 13:03 – 13:18)

Transcription: “It’s useless that you (Spanish government) hide it, because there are public figures (about gender violence), that the 69% of all males accused of gang raping have been aliens, though they just represent a 10% of all Spanish population”

Evidences

This figure is set out in a report launched by the “Universidad Autónoma de Madrid” (Autonomous University of Madrid). This report is called “Agresores sexuales de víctima desconocida” (Sexual Assaulters of Unknown Victim). This report collects sexual assaults cases between 2009 and 2013, in which the relation between the assaulter and the victim is unknown. 

The report gives the following definition of what “unknown” means in this case: “when the assaulter and the victim do not know each other before the assault or they have been together earlier for a short period of time” (cuando autor y víctima no se conocen previamente a la agresión o sólo han pasado un periodo corto de tiempo juntos; p.12). That is the main fact to disprove Abascal’s quote. When he exposes this figure, he extrapolates the sexual assaults, without mentioning the “unknown” connotation. Everytime he has claimed this sentence, he has never specified the type of assault, within the different types of attacks (domestic violence, when both assaulter and victim meet each other earlier, etc.). 

Abascal bases his claim on one statement made in the report. When the report starts analyzing gang sexual assaults, there is a sentence that says, “as for the personal characteristics of the authors, there is a lower presence of Spanish aggressors (31% in group …)” (En cuanto a las características personales de los autores, hay una presencia menor de agresores españoles, 31% en grupo…, p.36. ). Nonetheless, the whole report is focused in the assaults of unknown victim (the concept explained in the paragraph above). This data, obviously, is also covered, and there are constant reminders of the type of sexual assaults the report researches, even in that same paragraph. 

After checking that this report would not give the accurate figures that are needed to test Abascal’s quote, another similar reports was also checked. No report was found with that exact figure, but there was another one that could give a hint about the truthfulness of Abascal’s sentence. The report analyzed is called “Informe sobre delitos contra la libertad e indemnidad sexual” (Report about crimes against sexual freedom and indemnity) , and it was launched by the Spanish Home Office.

This report collects data about crimes against sexual freedom in Spain during 2017. In the report, there is a chapter focused on the profile of the assaulters. On page 28, there are some graphics about the nationality of the assaulters in all kind of sexual attacks. Clearly, the percentage shows that the number of Spanish assaulters is way higher than the alien assaulters one: Spanish assaulters (70,1%) vs. alien assaulters (29,1%). Building a bridge between these figures and the ones given by Santiago Abascal, we can discover how different both figures are.

Conclusion

Taking into account all data collected, we can say that the claim made by Santiago Abascal is false. First of all, we have seen how the report he uses to base his claim on is not eligible to his claim, as the report just collects data from sexual assaults where the assaulter and the victim did not know each other before. In this case, every time Abascal uses the claim, he never points out that connotation. 

Furthermore, we have tried to collect more data to check if that sentence could be suitable. Data about the nationality of assaulters in gang sexual attacks in Spain has not been found, but there is another figure that might help us. Collected data shows that the percentage of Spanish people that commit sexual attacks is higher than the cases that involve aliens.

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