Europe

Spain sexual consent: PM Pedro Sanchez promises new law

A protester holds a placard that reads "enough of patriarchal justice" during a protest against court's decision to release 'wolf pack' gang on bail. 22 June 2018 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A protester holds a placard reading "enough of patriarchal justice" during a protest against the release pending appeal of five men convicted of sexual assault

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has told parliament that his centre-left government will introduce a new law on sexual consent to remove ambiguities in rape cases.

Announcing the measure, he said that sex without explicit consent would be considered rape.

The law would be similar to one that came into force in Sweden this month.

It follows a notorious sex attack on a woman during the famous San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona.

In a case that caused outrage across Spain, five men who called themselves "the wolf pack" were convicted of sexually assaulting the young woman in 2016 but acquitted of rape. The decision led to street protests. All five are currently appealing against their nine-year jail sentences.

"To be clear, ladies and gentlemen, if they say no it means no, and if they don't say yes, it means no," Mr Sanchez told parliament.

The proposed laws were first unveiled last week by Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo.

Ms Calvo, who is also equality minister, said that the "only yes means yes" approach ensured "the autonomy, freedom and respect for a person along with their sexuality".

A similar law that came into effect in Sweden on 1 July says a person must give clear consent, verbal or physical.

Prosecutors there will no longer need to prove violence or that the victim was in a vulnerable situation in order to establish rape.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Pedro Sanchez has appointed a majority of women in his cabinet

Similar legislation also exists in some other European countries including the UK and Germany.

Videos of the late-night encounter in Pamplona between the men, who are originally from Seville, and the woman show how the five wandered the streets among other drunken revellers before two of them led her into a basement.

Some of them filmed the sexual attack on their phones.

According to the police report, the victim maintained a "passive or neutral" attitude throughout the scene.

Under current Spanish law, the charge of sexual abuse differs from rape in that it does not involve violence or intimidation.

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