PABLO Iglesias, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, announced yesterday via Twitter that English pianist and rights activist James Rhodes has been officially granted Spanish nationality.
The decision was made yesterday during a cabinet meeting to grant the Madrid resident permanent citizenship for his ‘artistic’ merits’ and his tireless work to modernise Spain’s child abuse laws.
44-year-old Rhodes, a decorated concert pianist, has been living in Madrid since 2017 with his wife Hattie Chamberlain and his son.
It was during this time in Spain that he began to understand the issues with Spain’s treatment of child abuse cases.
“There was this one thing I could not reconcile, and it was that every week there was another story of child rape, child abuse, not just in the Church, but in schools and families.” said Rhodes in an interview with the BBC.
In the interview he called the Spanish system ‘centuries out of date’ and lamented the procedures involved in convicting child abusers.
After two years of tireless campaigning and messages directly to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, “Rhodes Law” was eventually fast-tracked through congress.
The law would give more rights to the victims of child abuse, changing the legal procedure for convictions as well as introducing protocols to be introduced into schools.
The subject is close to Rhodes’ heart, as he was himself abused as a child.
After 35 years of silence, Rhodes spoke out on years of abuse at school at the hands of a PE teacher at the Arnold House School. North London.
In the wake of the attacks, Rhodes suffered both physically and mentally, and for years suffered PTSD, spinal damage and eating disorders.
Rhodes would use his music as an escape, explaining that, “Above all, it made him feel like even if it seemed as if the world really was a hostile and appalling place, it couldn’t be that bad because something this beautiful existed in it.”
Despite Rhodes’ sterling work and campaigning for the rights of sexual abuse victims, some politicians are critical of the ‘rapid’ nationalisation of the englishman.
Podemos spokesman Ramón Espinar, called the decision ‘hasty’ and expressed his concern that it will ‘set a poor precedent’ for all the other anonymous immigrants that have been waiting months for their Spanish status.