On October 14th, the “Only Yes Is Yes” bill was presented to the Spanish Parliament. It was passed despite amendments presented by Vox and the People’s Party.
The first draft of the Organic Law of Guarantees of Sexual Freedom was approved more than a year ago by the Council of Ministers. After going through comprehensive revisions in Congress, this bill aims at reaffirming Spain’s commitment to protecting victims of sexual violence. One of the key elements is getting rid of the distinction between sexual abuse and aggression.
The idea emerged after the 2016 gang-rape case in Pamplona, Navarre. Five men, dubbed La Manada (“the pack”), recorded themselves repeatedly assaulting an 18-year-old. They were charged with sexual abuse, instead of agression because there was no way to proving what the victim had been subjected to.
According to the new bill, any sexual attack without explicit consent will be penalized as aggression and sentencing would depend on different circumstances. Any aggression which involves penetration will be considered rape.
This radical change of the penal code is a breakthrough in Spain, granting women physical, emotional, and legal protection.The entire premise of law revolves around explicit consent. Currently, a definition of sexual consent is missing in the legal document actions in Spain. This has been ratified.
“Consent will only be understood to exist when it has been freely manifested through acts clearly expressing the individual’s will, considering the circumstances of the case.”
Additionally, this bill has a holistic approach regarding reparations for the victims. Some response measures include: providing timely assistance, sanitary attention, and legal protection. Resources like 24-hour crisis attention centers and financial aid help ameliorate the effects of the aggression. Sex education programs will be implemented in schools.
This extensive bill covers a range of crucial topics. Digital felonies, forced marriages, women trafficking, and genital amputation will also be punishable under the new law. Street harassment and “non-coercive pimping” would be considered a crime.
However, Vox and PP have strongly opposed parts of this bill. Vox considers it to “demonize and criminalize men”. PP believes it will affect the “presumption of innocence”, so men would be unfairly targeted. These parties attempted to veto the entire project. Irene Montero, Minister of Equality, gave an avid counter speech reaffirming the need for a project like this.
The next step is for the Courts of Justice to do another revision adjusting it to the Penal Code. It is projected that it will take about a year for the bill to be enforced into law.