Spain tightens legal siege against abuse and says ‘only yes is yes’

Spain tightens legal siege against abuse and says ‘only yes is yes’

The Organic Law for the Integral Guarantee of Sexual Freedom, widely disseminated as “Só Sim É Sim”, was definitively approved after passing through the Spanish Congress this Thursday (25). One of the main changes presented by the text refers to what defines sexual violence: the will of both parties must be freely, voluntarily and clearly demonstrated for the interaction to be considered lawful.

The set of rules focuses sexual violence on lack of consent and defines street harassment as a crime, in addition to categorizing chemical submission as an aggravating factor.

Proof that there was a lack of consent starts to categorize the crime, not being necessary, for example, the demonstration that the victim used force to try to get rid of the aggressor.

The law is considered avant-garde and places Spain in a prominent position with regard to the fight against sexual violence and for gender equality, being one of the most important projects carried out by the Ministry of Equality in the country.

On the occasion of the approval, Minister Irene Monteiro, head of the portfolio, celebrated the legal advance: “It is a day of victory after many years of struggle […] Finally, our country recognizes, by law, that consent is what has to be at the heart of all our sexual relationships.”

Now that the norm has come out of the Congress of Deputies, with 205 votes in favor, 141 against and three abstentions, the only thing missing is the king’s sanction so that the final text can be published in the Official State Bulletin. After publication, the law should begin to take effect in the coming weeks.

full attention

In addition to changing the perspective and view of sexual violence — since the victim no longer has to prove that his “no is no”, as it is established that what has to be clear is the permission of both parties —, the new law establishes other transformations aimed at guaranteeing rights. Chemical submission, for example, expressly becomes an aggravating factor.

“Street sexual harassment” becomes a misdemeanor, with three possible penalties. Sexual violence “through screens” is included in the law and digital misconduct should also be penalized.

Measures that include mandatory sex education for aggressors, economic aid for victims and the opening of 24-hour care centers are also provided for in the text.

“We recognize all sexual violence as violence against women, sexist violence and, therefore, the State provides an itinerary of comprehensive care and reparation for all women who are victims of sexual violence”, stressed the Minister of Equality.

Long walk

Many activist movements, popular and political, have developed in recent years so that the final text of the law “Só Sim É Sim” was approved this Thursday afternoon.

One of the milestones that can be considered as the vertices of this story was a sexual assault suffered by an 18-year-old girl, carried out in a group, by five men, in the city of Pamplona, ​​in northern Spain.

The crime, which became known as Caso Da Manada, provoked immense social commotion and brought up discussions on topics such as consent and the difference between abuse and rape. Judicial decisions were widely questioned and different entities, from local courts to the United Nations, acted in the face of what happened.

During the journey made from there to here, marked by the struggle to guarantee rights, some phrases became emblematic in Spain. “Sister, I do believe in you”, “It’s not abuse, it’s rape” and “Only yes is yes” won the streets and networks.

In the virtual environment, the popular name of the law has now become the hashtag #SoloSíEsSí, through which one can follow the national repercussion caused by the approval of the norm, which has been going through legislative procedures for more than a year, but which has, in at its root, historical problems dating from much earlier than that.

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