THE implementation of the revolutionary ‘Rhodes Law’ in Spain has reached another milestone as the draft report of the bill has been approved by Congress.

The Rhodes Law was named after British pianist turned abuse activist James Rhodes, who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a former teacher when he was at school.

Now living in Madrid, the 46-year-old has become an outspoken advocate of the modernisation of Spain’s out of date abuse laws.

The Social Rights commission of the Congress of Deputies approved the bill on Wednesday with 27 votes in favour, six against and two abstentions.

The approval of the bill gives the public their first glimpse at the content of the legislations, drawn up by the Ministry of Social Rights with contributions from the majority of the political parties.

The key points of the text are as follows:

  • The statute of limitations for sexual crimes will not come into force until the victim turns 30-years-old, instead of 18-years-old at present.
  • The hiring of anyone with criminal convictions relating to the abuse of minors will be prohibited in all public and private institutions that deal with children, for example: schools, hospitals, leisure centres and summer camps.
  • Judges will be given specific training on how to properly deal with sexual and violent abuse cases to ensure the comfort and safety of the minor involved.
  • Restraining orders will be monitored more stringently in the case of an abusive parent, preventing visitations and communication.
  • Theoretical conditions such as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) will be prevented to be taken into consideration when assessing crimes of abuse in order to avoid parental influence on the results of cases.
  • Guarantees will be strengthened so that children under the age of 18 can participate in legal proceedings with the maximum guarantee of safety, and judges will be prohibited to reject cases due to ‘lack of maturity’.
  • Joint custody in the case of abuse will be removed when violence can be proven.
  • Digital violence, for example cyber bullying, will receive full recognition in a court of law.
  • In total, 576 amendments to the original bill were requested, of which 70 have made into the version presented before congress.
  • The situation of unaccompanied minors that arrive on migrant boats will be properly regulated and the use of detention centres will be re-evaluated.

Requests such as the prohibiting of minors to attending bullfights as proposed by the ERC, EH Bildu and Unidas Podemos have been so far rejected.

The subject of preventing children to enter bullfights, and to participate in live animal training from a school age has been a topic that has been pushed by the UN’s Right’s of a Child committee, however has been rejected by the PSOE that claims that the ‘sport’ of bullfighting is an autonomous activity.

The topic of the prevention of eviction of families with dependent minors has also come under fire in a section of the text that is particularly vague according to critics, with no assurances of child safety or adequate alternative housing solutions.

Both issues will not however disappear, with both remaining on the table for debate is the next plenary meeting expected to be held next week.

The journey to getting to a final draft has not been an easy one, with many women’s rights activists claiming the text does not focus enough on gender violence and the disparity between male and female victims.

All the main political parties, with the exception of Vox, went back to the drawing board more than a dozen times to create the final draft with almost 700 talking points to be discussed.

The bill will now head to the Plenary of Congress to finalise the details before being voted on.

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