“Sister, things don’t happen by chance. Life put us there for a reason. María and Flor -their names are the only fiction in this story- do not stop thinking about what they experienced that night in La Malagueta. They do not stop thinking about the accumulation of coincidences that placed them there at that precise moment to prevent an alleged gang rape from becoming multiple. Because, apparently, there were two men “like waiting their turn,” they describe.
That night they hadn’t even stayed. But Maria couldn’t sleep because something was bothering her and she wrote to her friend Flor de Ella. “Are we going to have a drink?” She put it on WhatsApp. It was half past one on Monday morning and Flor was online. “The truth is that I did not resist. I said, ‘Okay, let’s go.’ The first match.
They arrived about two. They sat around the bar and began small talk. When they go to the club, they usually order a bucket of beer for both of them. Flor suggested it and Maria said no. She doesn’t even know why. Two crowns. Then another two. If they had asked for the bucket that night, they wouldn’t have left the club at the same time as the victim. The second match.
There were hardly any people in the disco. It was Sunday, although it is also usually full. Normally there might be a hundred people, but tonight there would hardly be thirty. On another occasion, a drunken woman might go unnoticed by them. But not that night. That makes them notice. The third match.
“Turn around,” Maria told Flor. There was a girl next to two men. One of her dressed in pink kissed her and the other, completely in black, touched her body. She seemed “super drunk, she fell and she also dropped a bottle,” her witnesses told SUR.
Even more, the behavior of the two men caught their attention. «They were cooler than her, without a doubt. Neither drunk nor drugged. They grabbed her, groped her and she didn’t react. She didn’t turn around or anything. As if she didn’t feel. There was a moment when she started to push them away, but they insisted. One of them even sat on a chair to continue playing it comfortably.
Maria went to the bathroom and when she came out, she realized that the girl and the two men were no longer there. “Let’s go out and smoke a cigarette,” she suggested to Flor. At the door, she saw them again, but the girl was already alone with one of them. “I saw when he takes her away from the bar. She did not go voluntarily, she had the intention of going back inside her, but he held her hands tightly », details María. «We decided -he continues- to go to another nightclub that is opposite, but I left with concern because I saw that she was not well».
They walked to the other establishment. That night, coincidentally, it was closed. That made them retrace their steps and they met them again on the seafront. The fourth and last match.
“He falls, he doesn’t know what he’s doing”
They watched as they went down the steps to the beach. “She is falling, she doesn’t even know what she is doing,” María told Flor, who devised a plan on the fly: “We have to hug each other so that they believe that we are girlfriends and don’t suspect.” They were scared, “very much”, because they did not know how to act. “I wanted to do it well, but also take care of myself and, above all, calm down, because what made me want to was to go after him…”, adds María.
“We needed to get closer to see,” intervenes Flor. «They were behind the island -where the letters of La Malagueta are found- and only his head could be seen (he is meter ninety). He was talking on the phone in his language, we didn’t understand what he was saying. Then, María released: ‘What was missing was for the one in the pink shirt to come…’».
No sooner said than done. The second man from the club came up to them on the boardwalk and said, “You guys don’t want to buy a lady’s bag? There is money here.” Flor explains: “We answered that obviously, we didn’t want it. He noticed our seriousness and replied: ‘Sorry, I didn’t want to bother you.’ He then he walked into the arena. And they, behind.
«I would do it for her and for anyone, just as I would also want someone to do that for me»
They crouched down until they hid behind the letters of La Malagueta. «I hid behind the E -says Flor- and she behind the T». From there they saw what, in their opinion, would be a violation: «There we became aware that he was sexually assaulting her. That woman never moved, she was like a plastic doll that some men use. What prompted us to call the police was the abruptness.”
The second individual, the one in pink, came over and sat a few meters from the scene. Seconds later the third arrived, sitting next to him. They deny knowing each other. “We just saw them talking to each other.”
While they waited for the police, the last one to arrive got up from where he was and walked towards them with a glass bottle in his hand. «You couldn’t see me, but one of María’s legs peeked out between the letters. I think they saw us,” says Flor.
“We only tell what we saw”
They interpreted it as a threat and ran towards the boardwalk. There they met the first patrol. “The officers ran to the beach and literally lifted him off the girl, who was in a very bad way. A policewoman had to help her get dressed.
When the agents arrived at the scene, they surprised the second individual – the one in pink, who was a few meters away – with his pants down and sitting on the victim’s bag. «They asked us in court, but the truth is that from our position we could not appreciate it. We only tell what we saw.
After the adrenaline, came the downturn. “You feel strange after seeing something like that. We didn’t want to get into a taxi by ourselves just because it was a man. It had never happened to us,” recalls Flor. Her friend reassured her.
And the next day, “mourning.” They didn’t want to tell anyone, but they talked to each other constantly about what they had experienced. “Her belly ached thinking about what they had done to her. Why is it always women, girls, why do they always see us as easy prey? “María reflects.
They still had a drink to pass. On Tuesday, they were summoned to court to tell what they saw. “There we met the girl,” they say. “We recognized the bag that she was carrying. It was the same one that the man in pink tried to sell us on the boardwalk. We approached him and asked him: ‘Are you also coming to testify about the rape?’ She replied, ‘Yes, I am the victim.'”
They barely exchanged a few words, but they could perceive in the victim a certain feeling of guilt. “She was very lost. She did not remember anything ». She told them that that night she went to the disco with a couple of friends -boy and girl-, that they met two of the detainees and that they shared a hookah that they prepared. That only she and her friend’s boyfriend smoked. And that neither of them remembered anything the next day, according to the witnesses.
María remembers with displeasure the moments in court. The comments, the alternative hypotheses that she heard in whispers from some defense in which it was about undermining the credibility of the victim. That exasperated them. Still, she “would do it again. We had to act and tell what we saw. I would do it for her and for anyone, just as I would want someone to do that for me.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.