Spain introduces new child protection law named after British pianist James Rhodes

Spain introduces new child protection law named after British pianist James Rhodes
James Rhodes posted this photo of himself and Pablo Iglesias to Twitter. @jRhodesPianist /Twitter
Spain’s deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias, leader of the Podemos party, announced on Monday that a new child protection law planned for Spain would be named after musician and campaigner James Rhodes.

So what is “Rhodes law”?

Exact details of the law have yet to be outlined but it is designed to protect children from their abusers and make it easier for them to bring charges against them, even if a long time has gone by.

Pablo Iglesias said the law was designed not just to protect “the boys and girls in this country, but should also be a global point of reference for the protection of childhood and adolescence and should become one of the elements that defines the actions of this government.”

It will be the first leglislation introduced under the Social Rights Ministry, the new department led by Iglesias, whose Podemos party brokered a coalition deal with Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist party to form a government in January.

 

What’s a British musician got to do with Spain's child protection laws?

James Rhodes, a 44-year-old pianist, who now lives in Madrid after relocating there from London three years ago, has led the campaign to reform Spain’s paedophilia laws and to abolish a statute of limitations on such crimes.

He has done so because of the abuse he suffered as a child when he was raped by a teacher throughout his prep school years, beginning from the age of five.

His harrowing story is recounted in the autobiographical Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music,a  book that became the centre of a freedom of speech case in the UK courts after his ex-wife took out an injunction against publication arguing the details of his story could prove harmful to their son.

The court rejected the injunction but it was later upheld on appeal, until Rhodes took the case to the Supreme Court and the book was allowed to be published but not before it sparked debate on the gagging of sexual abuse victims. 

“A person who has suffered in the way that the appellant has suffered, and has struggled to cope with the consequences of his suffering in the way that he has struggled, has the right to tell the world about it,” said the Supreme Court ruling.

“And there is a corresponding public interest in others being able to listen to his life story in all its searing detail.”

When Rhodes moved to Madrid in 2017, he began the campaign to end the statute of limitations on sex crimes against children, becoming a mouthpiece for the cause and meeting with Pedro Sanchez at Moncloa to discuss the way forward.

In a 2018 interview with El Pais he said: “It’s vital that paedophiles know that they are not safe in Spain, that they are not going to be protected, that they are going to be tried, that they will go to prison and they will serve their sentences.”

He continued: “When this legislation is approved, Spain will be the number-one country in the world in terms of safety for children. This is something that we should all feel very proud about.”

The musician reacted to news that the new law would be named after with him by highlighting the news of a recent case of children abused while in care in Spain's Balearic Islands.  

“I am aware that ‘Rhodes Law’ is trending,” he wrote in Spanish in a post on Twitter on Monday evening. “Please, let us remember what the law is about, how urgent it is and the shameful situation of the boys and girls who were raped in Mallorca. There is a lot of work to do.” 

 

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