Spain’s Congress passed legislation referred to as the “Yes Only Means Yes Law,” drafted in the wake of the 2016 “wolf pack” gang rape.
The law was passed with 205 votes in favour, 141 against and 3 abstentions. MPs from the conservative People’s Party and the far-right Vox voted against.
“It is a victory day after many years of struggle,” said Irene Montero, the equality minister. “From now on, no woman has to prove that violence or intimidation has been used to be recognized for what it is.”
The new law, according to which consent must be affirmative and cannot be assumed to have been given by default or tacitly, was drafted in the wake of the 2016 “wolf pack” gang rape.
After five men raped an 18-year-old woman during the Pamplona bull run, a court argued that video footage from the men’s phones – showing the woman motionless and with her eyes closed during the attack – was proof of consent. goods.
A judge claimed the men should only be charged with stealing the victim’s cell phone.
They were sentenced to nine years in prison for the lesser charge of sexual abuse, but after a massive public outcry, the charge was changed to rape and the sentence increased to 15 years.
Shortly after that case, five men accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in the Catalan city of Manresa were convicted on the lesser charge of sexual abuse on the grounds that the victim was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
In 2015, Spain increased the age of consent from 13 to 16 years. However, sexual activity with a minor could still be charged as sexual abuse rather than sexual assault, unless there was “violence or intimidation”.
The new law removes the distinction between sexual abuse and sexual assault (rape) by making explicit that consent is decisive. Passivity and silence can no longer be interpreted as consent.
The law states: “Consent can be considered consent only when it has been freely expressed through acts which, in accordance with the circumstances, clearly express the person’s wishes.”
The law had already been passed by the Senate earlier this year when it was delayed by an amendment to the text of the law introduced by the conservative Catalan nationalist party Junts per Catalunya, which was supported by the People’s Party.
The mother of the wolf pack victim said in a statement: “This law is the result of the courage, perseverance and dignity of a girl who knew how she wanted to live without being judged by anyone, and who decided to go ahead with it.” so that we would all be aware of the miserable road that too many victims have had to go and keep going. This is something that we all need to change together.”