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Spain passes new sexual consent law

Spain passes new sexual consent law

The country passed the 'only yes means yes' law with 205 votes in favour

Spain has officially passed a new sexual consent law - dubbed the 'only yes means yes' law - which states that consent can't be assumed by default or through silence.

Spanish congress passed the legislation in the wake of the 2016 'Sabadell wolf pack' gang rape, which saw an 18-year-old woman be raped a group of five men.

Under the new legislation, consent must be explicit and not assumed.

The landmark legislation was passed with a 205 majority. Meanwhile, 141 MPs voted against the law with three abstentions.

Georgina Ditton/Alamy Stock Photo

The legislation has been drawn up the horrific 'wolf pack' case. In court, video footage of the horrific attack was presented as evidence to prove consent, despite the woman appearing to be unconscious.

During the trial, one judge claimed the men should only be charged for stealing the victim's phone, rather than rape.

The men were eventually charged with the lesser crime of sexual abuse and sentenced to nine years in jail. However, after mass protests, the charge was changed to rape and they received a 15-year jail term.

Back in 2015, Spain upped the age of consent from 13 to 16, but sexual activity with a minor could only be charged as sexual abuse rather than rape, unless intimidation or violence was used.

The 'only yes means yes' law has removed any distinction between sexual abuse and rape, stating that: “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.”

Matthias Oesterle/Alamy Stock Photo

The law does not require that a consent to sexual acts be expressed verbally, but it does say that 'there is consent when it has been freely expressed through acts that, in view of the circumstances of the case, clearly express the will of the person.'

Speaking on the decision, equality minister Irene Montero said [translated]: “It’s a victorious day after many years of struggle. From now on no woman will have to prove that violence or intimidation was used for it to be recognised for what it is.”

Following the news, the mother of the 2016 victim said in a statement: “This law is the result of the bravery, perseverance and dignity of a girl who knew how she wanted to live without being judged by anyone, and who decided to go ahead so that we would all be aware of the miserable road that too many victims have had to, and continue to, go down. This is something we all have to change together.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact The Survivor’s Trust for free on 08088 010 818, or through their website thesurvivorstrust.org 

Featured Image Credit: Jack Sullivan/Marcos del Mazo/Alamy

Topics: World News, Crime