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CRIME

‘Only yes means yes’: Spain moves to tighten consent laws against rape

Spain's cabinet approved a draft bill on Tuesday that strengthens the country's laws against rape by requiring explicit consent for sex acts, a move long demanded by assault survivors and women's rights groups.

'Only yes means yes': Spain moves to tighten consent laws against rape
Demonstrators shout slogans in Pamplona in 2018 during a protest against the acquittal of the 'wolf pack' rapists. Photo: Ander Guillenea/AFP

The proposed 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.

The measure comes in the wake of the notorious 2016 gang rape of an 18-year-old woman by five men at a bull-running festival in Pamplona in northern Spain that shocked the country.

The men, who called themself “the wolf pack”, were initially only convicted of sexual abuse instead of the more serious offence of sexual assault which includes rape, since the court found no proof that they had used physical violence.

Two of the men filmed the assault, during which the woman is silent and passive — a fact the judges interpreted as consent.

The ruling highlighted how under Spain’s existing criminal code, rape must involve violence and intimidation, and it led to noisy demonstrations across the country to demand reform.

Dubbed the “only yes means yes” law, the bill will define rape as sex without clear consent, mirroring pioneering legislation which came into force in Sweden in 2018.

READ MORE:

Spain: All sexual acts that don’t begin with a ‘yes’ deemed illegal

The bill also proposes jail penalties for work-related sexual harassment and makes catcalling — sexually harassing a stranger in the street — a criminal offence for the first time.

It also qualifies forced marriage and genital mutilation as criminal offences and stiffens laws against pimping.

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

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez heads a minority government but he is expected to cobble together enough support from smaller regional parties to pass the bill.

Spain is considered a pioneer in the fight against violence against women after it in 2004 approved Europe’s first law that specifically cracked down on domestic violence.

That law made the victim’s gender an aggravating factor in cases of assault.

Only about a dozen European nations have changed their legal definition of rape as sex without consent, according to Amnesty International.

They include Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Ireland.

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CRIME

Spanish mother jailed for falsely accusing ex-husband of child abuse

A Spanish court has jailed a woman for five years for repeatedly filing false reports about her ex-husband sexually abusing their daughter.

Spanish mother jailed for falsely accusing ex-husband of child abuse

According to El Mundo daily, the sentence was unprecedented in Spain.

In a ruling handed down by a court in the southern city of Granada which was seen by AFP on Wednesday, the unnamed woman was convicted of filing false allegations, offences against moral integrity and abandonment of parental responsibility.

She was also ordered to pay €40,000 ($42,000) each to the child and her father for the harm caused by her unfounded allegations, which were aimed at securing sole custody of her daughter, now nine.

The court also took away the mother’s parental responsibility for 10 years on grounds she posed “a threat to (her daughter’s) development”, according to court documents dated Monday.

The woman had filed eight reports to the police and the courts over a two-year period, accusing her husband of abuse and on one occasion rape as they were in the throes of getting divorced.

She also took her daughter to be examined by doctors and psychologists on 10 separate occasions.

None of them ever found any evidence of the alleged abuse.

The ongoing gynaecological and psychological examinations had an impact on the child’s “psychological stability and her performance at school”, according to the court documents.

The aim was to “obtain the sole and exclusive custody” of their daughter.

The sentence, which can be appealed, described the mother as a person with a predisposition for “lying” who displayed “shameless cynicism” and “cunning malice with obsessive overtones”.

The couple married in 2010 and had a daughter in 2012. But they split up in 2017 and the problems began a year later when the father, an English teacher, requested joint custody.

After his ex-wife began filing the false allegations against him, he lost most of his students along with his “emotion stability, peace of mind and sense of calm”, the court found.

“It’s like being buried alive,” he told El Mundo.

“It’s trying to kill someone without laying a finger on them… accusing them of the vilest, worst thing that a human being can do: harming your own daughter.”

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