25 Nov, 2022 @ 15:45
2 mins read

Three sex offenders who raped minors see sentences cut under Spain’s new ‘only yes means yes’ law

Spain: Concentration In Repulse Of Sexual Assaults
Gijon, SPAIN: One of the banners of the rally during the Rally in repulse of sexual assaults in Gijón, Spain on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Alberto Brevers / Pacific Press)

THREE more sex offenders in Spain have had their prison sentences reduced under the country’s controversial new ‘only yes means yes’ sexual assault law

A court in Valladolid, in Spain’s Castilla y León region, announced on Thursday that a young man who had raped a girl aged under 18 at knifepoint has seen two years taken off his sentence, Spanish daily El Mundo reported. 

Meanwhile, it emerged that in mid-October the Madrid Provincial Court had reduced the sentences of two convicted rapists under the new law. Both the victims in those cases were also minors. 

Spain’s new ‘Full Guarantee of Sexual Freedom Act’ was drafted by the Equality Ministry and was designed to put consent at the heart of the new legislation. It removes the distinction between sexual abuse and assault, in a bid to offer victims more protection if there is a lack of consent. 

However, the law also included changes to minimum sentences for some offences if there are no aggravating circumstances. Under Spanish law, these lower sentences can be applied to sex offenders already serving their sentences. This has led to a flurry of cases where such offenders have either had their sentences reduced, or in some cases have been freed on time served.

In the case in Valladolid, the original sentence was 12 years, but this was reduced to 10 years given that this is the new minimum sentence for the rape of a minor. 

The first of the Madrid cases reported by El Mundo involved a man who raped his daughter on several occasions when she was aged 14. She had been suffering abuse from her father since she was 10. He has seen his sentence reduced from 14 years to 13. 

The second case in Madrid involved an aggressor aged 20 at the time and a victim aged 15. The sentence has been reduced from 10 years to nine, on the basis that the aggravating circumstance taken into account at the time can no longer be applied. 

The unintended consequence of the new law has caused a huge political row, with Equality Minister Irene Montero of the leftist Unidas Podemos party – the junior partner in Spain’s coalition government – blaming ‘sexist’ judges for not properly applying it. 

The Socialist Party Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez meanwhile has continued to back the law, calling for patience until the courts – including the Supreme Court – unify their criteria for the interpretation of the legislation.

This week Spain’s attorney general instructed all public prosecutors to oppose any sentence reductions in such circumstances, but the provincial court in Madrid has already stated that it will not follow these guidelines and will lower the sentences of convicted sex offenders under the new legislation.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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