SPAIN’S Congress approved a ‘yes means yes’ bill on on Thursday, qualifying all non-consensual sex as rape.
The bill comes in the wake of the infamous ‘Wolf Pack’ gang rape case in Pamplona that sparked public outrage and prompted mass demonstrations across 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.
It merges the crimes of sexual abuse and sexual assault under the label of rape, meaning victims will no longer have to prove violence or resistance.
It follows an outline of legislation which came into force in Sweden in 2018 and defines consent as an explicit expression of a person’s will, making it clear that silence or passivity do not equal consent.
And it means non-consensual sex can be considered aggression and subject to prison terms of up to 15 years.
“The (mottos) ‘only yes is yes’ and ‘sister I do believe you’ finally turn into a law,” Equality Minister Irene Montero told lawmakers in Congress on Thursday as the legislation was passed.
“From now on, Spain is a freer and safer country for all women,” she said. “We’re going to swap violence for freedom, we’re going to swap fear for desire.”
The bill, which has been several years in the making, has been high priority for Spain’s leftist coalition government but faced opposition from the conservative Popular Party and far-right Vox, whose MPs voted against it.
But it was approved by 201-140 votes with 3 abstentions and must will now face a vote in the Senate before it can become law.
The bill also includes measures that obliging underage sex offenders to undergo sex education courses and gender equality training. It also extends help for victims with the creation of a network of 24 hour crisis centres across Spain for those who have suffered sexual assault.
The new legislation is intended to ensure that victims won’t have to suffer the further injustice that was seen during the ‘wolf pack’ case which saw five men accused of gang raping an 18-yearold during San Fermin fiesta in Pamplona in 2016.
The accused were found guilty of sexual abuse and not rape after a video shown to the court of the act appeared to show that the victim did not resist.
It prompted widespread outrage and mass protests in what became Spain’s ‘me too’ movement with the hashtag ‘I believe you’.
Eventually Spain’s Supreme Court later overruled two lower courts and sentenced the five men to 15 years in prison on a rape conviction.
- ‘Only yes means yes’: Spain’s cabinet approves bill to classify ‘non-consensual’ sex as rape
- Ringleader in Spain’s notorious ‘wolfpack’ gang rape case admits crime and asks forgiveness from victim