THE Spanish government has approved a draft bill against child abuse.

The legislation designed to protect minors most at risk contains elements of prevention, early detection, protection and reparation for victims of violence.

The bill will now start making its way through Congress, with El Pais sources saying that the government will seek fast-track approval.

In February, Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias said that the new legislation will be known as the ‘Rhodes Law’, in recognition of James Rhodes, a British pianist in defence of children’s rights.

Half of all reports of sexual abuse were against minors, according to data obtained by El Pais.

In 2018, 38,000 minors were the victims of some sort of criminal act, said Iglesias.

“With this law, our country is going to adopt the highest international standards in child protection,” he added.

The bill extends the statute of limitations on the most serious crimes committed against minors, introduces protocols to be followed by schools as well as sports and leisure centers, and makes changes to judicial procedures.

The time limit for filing legal action will start to run when the victim turns 30 years old, not 18 as is currently the case.

The time period expires at the earliest after five and at the latest after 15 years, which means that the victim could take action up until the age of 45, not 33 which is currently the case.

The draft bill also establishes that children under 14 and people with disabilities will only have to give a statement once during the court investigation.

In these cases no contact will take place with the alleged abuser.

There will be tougher conditions for accessing prison leaves for individuals convicted of sex crimes against children under the age of 16. 

New penalties have been created for online crimes such as encouraging minors to commit suicide or to hurt themselves.

Child protection organisations are comparing this piece of legislation with the gender violence law that passed in 2004.

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