Spain passes ‘only yes means yes’ sexual assault law
Madrid, Aug 25 (EFE).- The Spanish congress passed on Thursday the ‘only yes means yes’ law — Law on the Comprehensive Guarantee of Sexual Freedom — that eliminates the distinction between sexual abuse and sexual aggression.
The legislation passed with 205 votes in favor, 141 votes against and 3 abstentions.
“It’s a victorious day after many years of struggle,” Spain’s equality minister, Irene Montero, said.
“From now on no woman will have to prove that violence or intimidation was used for it to be recognised for what it is,” she added.
The new law not only eliminates the distinction between sexual abuse and rape but also rules that passivity and silence can no longer be interpreted as consent. This means victims will no longer have to prove that they were coerced or resisted the attack.
“Consent can only be considered consent when it has been freely manifested through actions that, in accordance with the circumstances, clearly express the person’s wishes,” the law states.
The move comes four years after the sentencing of the ‘wolf-pack’ — La Manada — who gang raped an 18-year old in the northern city of Pamplona during the annual running of the bulls festival.
In 2018, the five men were initially sentenced to 9 years in prison for sexual abuse, a lesser crime compared to sexual assault (rape). The judge argued that footage of the girl immobile and with her eyes shut during the attack was a proof of consent.
The controversial sentencing sparked an outrage and series of protests in Spain, forcing the judge to change the charge to rape. The men were sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The law was rejected by far-right party Vox and the conservative People’s Party who claim the text lacks legal certainty, violates fundamental rights and implies a lack of legal protection for victims.EFE