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Only Yes Means Yes: Spain Adopts New Sexual Consent Law

The bill "The Comprehensive Guarantee of Sexual Freedom Bill" was passed by Spain's parliament, and it addresses the definition of consent in Spanish law. This historic decision will relieve sexual violence victims of the burden of proving they resisted, were intimidated, or were subjected to violence in order to establish that they were victims of sexual assault. According to the text of the bills, "it will only be understood that there is consent when the will of the person is clearly expressed."


This law, popularly known as "ley Solo si es si," or "only yes is yes" in English, will be a significant step toward ensuring sexual freedom. The burden of proving resistance or violence will no longer fall on the victim of a sexual assault. In fact, the law makes any sexual act performed without consent illegal and will be prosecuted as sexual assault.


Putting permission at the forefront, the bill states that consent will be accepted only if the person's will is clearly expressed. Furthermore, silence or passivity does not indicate agreement or assent to a sexual act. 


To ensure a level of stringency, the definition of sexual violence has been broadened. Sexual violence is defined in the new definition as "female genital mutilation, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and trafficking for sexual exploitation." Special consideration will be given to sexual violence committed in the virtual era, including the dissemination of sexual violence, non-consensual pornography, and sexual extortion via technological means."

It will also be punishable to use substances such as drugs to coerce the victim's permission. According to the new law, non-consensual sex is rape.


The fight for this law began in 2016, when there was outrage over the wolf-pack case. In the wolf-pack case, five men gang-raped an 18-year-old girl. Following this incident, the court only convicted the men of sexual violence rather than rape. This was due to the fact that the incident was captured on video by two men, and the judges ruled that the women were silent, causing outrage throughout Spain. According to the defendants' legal team, the victim was "paralyzed with fear" and thus never said no.


The judgement caused a global backlash, with protesters and demonstrators filling the streets of Spain. There was pressure on Spain to join the countries that considered non-consensual sex to be rape. In 2019, the Spanish Supreme Court overturned this decision, finding them guilty and sentencing them to 15 years in prison, the maximum sentence for rape in Spain.


Only nine countries have defined consensual sex in their legislation. Ireland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Cyprus, Iceland, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden are among them. Non-consensual sex is also considered rape in Portugal, Montenegro, and Austria.


The Istanbul Declaration, which aims to prevent and combat violence against women, also defines rape as any non-consensual sexual act. Although 34 countries signed the Istanbul Convention, only 33 countries are now signatories due to Turkey's recent withdrawal.

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Tags: #Spain #law #Consent #SoloSiEsSi #OnlyYesIsYes


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