Spain passes law against sexual violence

People in Spain will have to explicitly voice their consent to sexual acts in the future to ensure that they are not criminal, under a legislation passed by Parliament.

The conservative People’s Party (PP) and right-wing populist Vox party voted against the so-called “Yes Means Yes” law, arguing that it goes against the spirit of innocence until proven guilty, reports dpa news agency.

The law had already passed lower house scrutiny in May, but was sent back by the Senate with a small suggested change.

The new law lifts the distinction between abuse and aggression. Sexual abuse will be regarded as rape by the law regardless of whether the victim actively defends him- or herself.

Rape and sexual violence will carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. Furthermore, “intimidating” compliments and the spreading of sex tapes will also be criminalised.

Equalities Minister Irene Montero called the law “a decisive step to the change of the sexual culture” of the country. It would put an end to a “culture of rape”, she said.

In May, she had said that “the feminist movement is writing history in Spain”.

The new initiative against sexual violence is partly in response to a number of high-profile cases of gang rapes, in which perpetrators got off with mild sentences in recent years.

A case in July 2016 in particular caused an uproar, when a group of five men dragged a young woman into a house during the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona, raping her multiple times and filming the ordeal.

The court did not regard the evidence as conclusive of rape, because the victim remained passive.

The 2018 verdict prompted protests throughout the country.

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