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'Only Yes Means Yes' — how Spain tightened its rape law

'Only Yes Means Yes' — how Spain tightened its rape law

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By CNBCTV18.com Aug 26, 2022 6:06 PM IST (Published)

Spain’s parliament passed the legislation which now clearly spells out what explicit sexual consent is. This comes after public outcry over the notorious 'wolf pack' gang rape case in 2016 amid the bull-running festival in Pamplona.

Spain tightened its rape and sexual consent law, with legislation now requiring explicit consent for sex. The move was driven by the country’s left-wing government following a notorious gangrape in 2016, followed by an outrageously lenient verdict that led to a public outcry.

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Dubbed as the ‘Only Yes Means Yes’ law, the Bill was passed by the parliament with 205 votes in favour and 141 against after passing the first reading by lawmakers in May.


The law involves a reform of Spain’s criminal code, which now redefines rape as sex without clear consent.

What does the law say?

Under the new law, consent must be affirmative and cannot be assumed by default or through silence.

Earlier, rape was defined by the presence of violence or intimidation, and without these, such an offence carried lighter penalties.

However, the new law removes the distinction between sexual abuse and sexual aggression (rape) by making consent the key deciding factor. As per the law, passivity and silence can no longer be interpreted as consent.

The law says, “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 Guardian reported.

Until now, rape victims had to prove that they had been subjected to violence or intimidation for rape charges to stand true.

The new law also tightens rules on street harassment, expands emotional and sexual education in schools and strengthens protection and compensation for sexual violence victims.

Background

The new legislation was drawn up after five men raped an 18-year-old woman during the 2016 bull-running festival in Pamplona. The men who called themselves the ‘wolf pack’ argued in court that the video footage from their phones in which was the woman was immobile and with her eyes shut during the attack was proof of consent. In the initial verdict, the accused were sentenced to six years in prison for the lesser charge of sexual abuse.

This verdict led to huge nationwide protests in the country demanding reform.

After the public outcry, in 2019, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict, and the charge was changed to rape and the sentence of the five convicts increased from six years to 15 years.

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