SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 2 August 2021, Monday |

Spain says non-consensual sex is rape, toughens sexual violence laws

On Tuesday, the Spanish government enacted a law that defines all non-consensual intercourse as rape, as part of a legislative revamp that toughens sexual harassment penalties and mandates stronger victim support services.

It passed the bill five years after the ‘wolf-pack’ case, in which five men gang-raped an 18-year-old woman during Pamplona’s bull-running festival, provoking public outrage and prompting calls for sexual violence legislation change.

The plan still needs to be approved by Parliament, which is likely to happen before the end of the year.

The rule, which is based on a “yes means yes” concept that classifies any non-consenting intercourse as rape, will bring Spain into line with 11 other European countries that employ similar legal definitions, including Sweden, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.

At a press conference, government spokesperson Maria Jesus Montero said that the new law “puts the victim at the center of the public reaction.” “Consent does not imply silence or passivity.”

In order for an incident to be regarded as rape, the perpetrator must have utilized physical violence or intimidation.

Stalking and harassment on the street, which are currently misdemeanors, will become felonies, as will female genital mutilation.

Gang rape will be considered an aggravating factor entailing prison sentences of up to 15 years to deter gang crimes similar to others that have shocked Spaniards.

In parallel, the measures call for the creation of a 24-hour sexual assault helpline and specialized children’s homes for underage victims.

Spain has traditionally attempted to be in the forefront of sexual politics in order to combat macho attitudes. In 2007, it made gay marriage legal, and in 2004, it passed a groundbreaking gender violence law.

The cabinet approved a draft bill last week that would allow anyone over the age of 14 to legally alter their gender without the need for a medical diagnosis or hormone therapy.

On Monday night, protests erupted across Spain in response to the weekend beating murder of a gay man in what appeared to be a homophobic attack in the northern city of La Coruna.

The use of batons by police in Madrid prompted the administration to launch an investigation into their actions.