7 Jul, 2021 @ 10:15
1 min read

Explainer: What does the ‘only yes means yes’ law mean for rape victims in Spain?

Valencia Rape Case

A DRAFT bill that strengthens the country’s laws against rape by requiring the word ‘yes’ before sex acts was approved by the cabinet on Tuesday in Spain. 

The proposed law, long supported by assault survivors and women’s rights groups, has been dubbed the  ‘only yes means yes’ law because it defines any sex acts without clear consent as rape.

Following in the footsteps of legislation which came into force in Sweden in 2018, the new law  ‘makes clear that silence or passivity do not mean consent, or that not showing opposition can not be an excuse to act against the will of the other person,’ government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero told a news conference after the cabinet meeting.

It has been a long journey for the bill, which was officially given the green light last year but has yet to come into practice. 

The bill still must be approved by parliament, with a vote expected in the chamber in September.

The Ministry of Equality said that when the rule comes into force, the victims ‘will no longer have to prove that they have resisted or that there has been violence’. 

The current wording states that ‘it will only be understood that there is consent when it has been freely expressed through acts that, in light of the circumstances of the case, clearly express the will of the person’.

The bill also qualifies forced marriage and genital mutilation as criminal offenses and promises to protect all women, girls and boys regardless of their administrative status, ethnicity, or nationality, as well as victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. 

Pimps will also face tougher punishments under this new law. 

Women will also gain greater protection during the judicial process, with victims being allowed to give testimony and sit in a different room from their alleged attacker. 

In addition, women victims of sexual violence will also be given access to a full set of resources even if they do not report the crime within the first 24 hours. This includes access to 24-hour crisis centers for those over 16 years of age, or children’s homes for younger victims. 


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