The touching of a group of young people to a girl in Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona) has put the focus on the group of unaccompanied foreign minors (MENA). Two of the seven boys who participated in the sexual abuse are minors, but they were not in the protection system of the Generalitat nor in the radar of the consistory. Out of public control – they were not supervised or assigned a juvenile center – they lived together with other people of Moroccan origin in a house occupied near the place where the aggression took place.
The episode occurred around six o'clock on Sunday morning. The group of young people rebuked a girl who was traveling in a subway car on line 9. The woman got off at the Can Peixauet stop and got on the elevator to go out into the street. The boys came in with her. They touched her ass, tried to kiss her and tried to touch her in the groin, according to research sources. Already from the car, the girl had alerted by mobile phone to her partner, who showed up at the subway stop. The boyfriend received a stab in the subway that forced him to operate, although he did not fear for his life.
After being alerted by the underground guards, the local police initially arrested a total of 15 people, some for participating in the attack and others because they lived in the same occupied building, which was in a ruinous state. Throughout the morning of Monday, eight of them have been released and seven remain in detention. Among them are the two minors. His alleged participation in sexual abuse is accredited, according to police sources, by the images of the subway surveillance cameras.
The event has unleashed a political controversy that has faced the City of Santa Coloma de Gramenet and the Generalitat. The consistory, governed by the socialist Núria Parlon, has issued on Monday a tough statement in which links MENA with crime. The text denounces "the presence of these young people and unaccompanied minors who circulate through the Catalan geography without fixed residence committing different crimes and faults and generating alarm and insecurity in the Catalan cities." The local government has asked the Generalitat to address "in a global manner and as a country problem" the issue and has requested "urgent measures", in addition to a reinforcement of the staff of Mossos.
The Generalitat has tried to escape criticism and has accused the government of Santa Coloma of "precipitation" for attributing the aggression to the MENA. The Catalan Government's Secretary for Children, Adolescents and Youth, Georgina Oliva, has stated that the Government currently serves 2,850 foreign minors and the percentage that derives from juvenile justice "does not reach 3%." "We must welcome everyone well and put the resources that are needed and we are working on that".
Oliva has affirmed that, in the case of the two minors, "none was protected" by the General Directorate of Attention to Children and Adolescents (DGAIA). The secretary has admitted that one of the adult detainees was three years ago in the protection system. But he has insisted that they had no news of the minors, and criticized that Santa Coloma has not reported the situation of these children.