SPAIN’S new coalition government is on the cusp of penning a dramatic reform in rape and sexual assault laws, overturning years of injustice for victims of these horrific crimes.
For years, Spain’s sexual assault and rape laws have been very ambiguous, and have recently caused worldwide outrage by allowing aggressors to ‘get away’ with lighter sentences depending on the nature of the case.
Currently, violence and intimidation are required to consider the case rape.
This means that the use of sedatives or drugs or even a change in consent will STILL only be classified as a ‘sexual assault’, therefore carrying a shorter, more lenient sentence.
These charges came to light most recently last year in Bilbao, where six Moroccan and Algerian men were charged with just the less severe crime of sexual assault after they raped an 18-year-old girl in a park in the city centre.
The verdict caused nationwide protests, and women’s rights movements began pushing the government for reform, giving victims more rights and making punishments more severe.
However government officials yesterday confirmed to Spanish media that they are on the cusp of penning a dramatic reform in current laws, increasing sentences for perpetrators and broadening the parameters for what constitutes ‘rape’.
The Ministry of Equality revealed details of the draft, which effectively combines numerous different types of sexual assault crime into one umbrella term, aggravated sexual assault.
This new term effectively increased the sentences for aggravators by up to six years depending on the circumstances of the crime.
The new proposals cover all aspects of the crime, including the abuse of minors, sexual harassment, assault with the use of drugs or alcohol, and group aggressions.
For example, in the case of the notorious ‘Wolfpack case’ at Pamplona’s San Fermin festival, five men who gang raped an 18-year-old were only charged with sexual abuse.
Following their crime at the popular bull running event in 2016, the group were originally sentenced to nine years in prison but only got five years probation.
Under new proposals, the men will automatically be charged with up to 15 years in prison if found guilty, and treatment and cross examinations of the victim will also be reduced.
The new bill marks a step in the right direction in Spain for victims seeking justice over this horrific crime.