Spain’s debate on the “only yes is yes” law began on Friday in the Spanish parliament in Madrid.
According to a proposal from the Department of Equality, the law would strengthen the country’s criminal code against rape by requiring explicit consent to sexual acts, a move that has long been demanded by survivors of assault and women’s rights groups.
The proposed law follows the infamous group rape of a woman by five men in Pamplona in 2016, which shocked the country.
The five men known as the “wolf pack” were initially convicted of sexual abuse instead of the more serious offense of sexual assault, as the court found no evidence of physical violence.
The attack was filmed and revealed that the woman was silent and passive – a fact that the judges interpreted as consent.
The measure will “make it clear that silence or passivity does not mean consent or that no resistance to the will of the other person can be excused,” said government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero.
For the first time, the draft law also qualifies forced marriage, genital mutilation and catcalling – the sexual harassment of a stranger on the street – as criminal offenses. Work-related harassment is punishable by imprisonment.
“The ‘only yes is yes’ law will stand firmly behind the human rights alliance and the international feminist current and lead a new generation of feminist rights that will change the future of women in Spain,” said Gender Equality Minister Irene Montero.
Although conservative and far-right movements raised some concerns, they did not receive much support from other members of the chamber.
Marta González Vázquez, of the People’s Party, raised concerns about the presumption of innocence and said it was “an innovative move, but one with undeniable risks, including the possible reversal of the burden of proof and the consequent limitation of the persecuted person’s constitutional rights”. . “
All political groups can propose amendments to this bill.