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SPANISH LAW

‘Only yes means yes’: Spain edges closer to passing new sexual consent law

Spain’s Senate on Tuesday backed a bill toughening the country's rape laws by requiring explicit consent for sex acts, a reform the government promised following a gang rape that sparked widespread outrage.

SPAIN-CRIME-RAPE-TRIAL-DEMO
Demonstrators hold a sign reading "No means no" during a protest in 2018 against the acquittal of five men accused of gang raping an 18-year-old woman.The judge’s ruling, which interpreted the victim’s silent as consent, highlighted how under Spain's criminal code rape had to involve violence or intimidation, which in turn led to huge protests across the country to demand reform.(Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP) involve violence or intimidation, led to huge protests across the country to demand reform.(Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP)

It calls for Spain’s criminal code to be reformed to define rape as sex without clear consent. Crucially, that removes the need for rape victims to prove that they resisted or were subject to violence or intimidation.

“Consent is recognised only when a person has freely demonstrated it through actions which, in the context of the circumstances of the case, clearly express the person’s will,” says the bill.

The proposed reform comes after of a notorious 2016 gang rape of an 18-year-old woman by five men at the bull-running festival in Pamplona, northern Spain.

The men — who called themselves the “wolf pack” – were initially convicted of “sexual abuse” and not rape. That lesser offence will disappear from the criminal code if the bill becomes law.

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

That ruling, which highlighted how under Spain’s criminal code rape had to involve violence or intimidation, led to huge protests across the country to demand reform.

In 2019, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict, convicting all five of rape and increasing their sentences from nine years to 15 years each.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez — a self-described feminist — vowed to introduce a law on consent aimed at removing ambiguity in rape cases when he took office in June 2018.

“We don’t want any more ‘wolf packs’, neither for us, nor for our daughters,” Donelia Roldan Martinez, a senator with the Socialist party, told the Senate before it approved the bill.

The lower house of parliament adopted the text in a first reading in May.

But the bill — dubbed the “Only yes is yes” law — still has to go back to Spain’s lower house of parliament after the Senate unexpectedly backed an amendment.

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TAX FRAUD

Spanish court orders Shakira to stand trial in tax fraud case

A Spanish court has ordered Colombian music superstar Shakira to stand trial in a tax fraud case at a date yet to be determined, court documents showed on Tuesday.

Spanish court orders Shakira to stand trial in tax fraud case

Prosecutors in Barcelona said in July they would seek a prison sentence of more than eight years against the singer and a fine of nearly €24 million ($24 million), after she rejected a plea deal over accusations of tax evasion.

They accuse the 45-year-old “Hips don’t Lie” songstress of defrauding the Spanish tax office of €14.5 million ($14.7 million) on income earned between 2012 and 2014.

Prosecutors say Shakira moved to Spain in 2011 when her relationship with FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique became public but maintained official tax residency in the Bahamas until 2015.

The couple, who have two children, announced their separation in June. On September 19, a Barcelona court ordered the singer to stand trial for six tax crimes, according to a court ruling made public on Tuesday.

In an interview published in Elle magazine last week, Shakira said she was confident she had behaved correctly and did not owe the Spanish tax office anything.

“These accusations are false,” she said.

“While Gerard and I were dating, I was on a world tour. I spent more than 240 days outside Spain, so there was no way I qualified as a resident,” she added.

“The Spanish tax authorities saw that I was dating a Spanish citizen and started to salivate. It’s clear they wanted to go after that money no matter what.”

Shakira’s lawyers have said that until 2014 she earned most of her money from international tours, moved to Spain full time only in 2015 and has met all her tax obligations.

The singer says she has paid €17.2 million to Spanish tax authorities and has no outstanding debts.

She argues Spanish prosecutors are trying to claim money she earned during her international tour and from her participation on the show “The Voice”.

She was a judge on the show in the United States, when she says she was not yet resident in Spain.

A Barcelona court in May dismissed an appeal from the singer to drop the charges.

Shakira was named in one of the largest ever leaks of financial documents in October 2021, known as the “Pandora Papers”, among public figures linked to offshore assets.

With her mix of Latin and Arabic rhythms and rock influence, three-time Grammy winner Shakira scored major global hits with songs such as “Hips don’t Lie”, “Whenever, Wherever” and “Waka Waka”, the official song of the 2010 World Cup.

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