Spain adopts legislation to curb sexual assaults and gender violence 

The new legislation will impose penalties between one and four years in prison for "crimes against sexual freedom" of individuals (women or men) who did not explicitly express their consent to have sexual relations. [EPA-EFE/Chema Moya]

The Spanish government, a coalition of moderate socialists and radical leftists, adopted new legislation on Tuesday (3 March) to prevent gender violence and sexual assaults, which are on the rise in Spain, EURACTIV’s partner EuroEFE reported.

The progressive coalition of the socialists of PSOE and radical and anti-establishment left-wing Unidas Podemos (United We Can) drafted a new law against sexual violence which ends the current distinctions in the Spanish Penal Code between “abuse” and “sexual assault”. 

The new legislation will impose penalties of between one and four years in prison for “crimes against sexual freedom” of individuals (women or men) who did not explicitly express their consent to have sexual relations.

Spanish Media have colloquially called it the law of the “sólo sí es sí”, which means “only yes (clear consent to have sexual relations) means yes”.

Penalties in the new law can vary, depending on the type of “sexual crime” committed, for example in the case of rape, with or without “aggravating factors”, the text of the draft law reads.

A symbolic political message on the eve of 8 March

With the preliminary adoption of the new law (which still needs the final approval of parliament), the Spanish “progressive” coalition wanted to give a symbolic message, only four days ahead of the International Women’s Day.

However, Unidas Podemos and the PSOE clashed on some points of the draft, in particular when it came to the need, as the socialists stressed, to adapt and change some legal details in order not no collide with some Spanish autonomous communities which have legal competences in the same policy areas.

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