GETTING TO GRIPS WITH…..THE NEW RAPE LAW

THE ONLY “ YES IS YES” RAPE LAW

Two years ago I wrote the article in the right hand column for my main webpage, Nexonr.
 I, and most of the women in Spain, was outraged that the terrified silence of a gang rape victim could possibly be construed as her being complicit.
Two years ago Pedro Sanchez promised his Government would change the law to “Only Yes is Yes” and anything else would be considered rape.
This week he came up with the goods.
The blueprint of the Ley Orgánica de garantía integral de la libertad sexual (the Organic Law to give a total guarantee of sexual liberty) has been approved by the Council of Ministers and will go forward to Congress for ratification.
Among other things, it is a Law of Consent, and states:
“All sexual relations must begin with  mutual consent and an absolute certainty that the other person wishes to participate of their own free will. All sex without consent is aggression. Only Yes is Yes.”
As the principal of Judicial Precedent (that a decision by a superior court being binding on a lower court) is often a cry in the wilderness in Spain, because judges look for loopholes in order to ignore it, this law will finally bind the hands of those who make sexist judgements blaming the victims in rape cases and thus reducing the rape charge to sexual assault. And, as it stands this law goes much further than this.
It requires every man who wants to have sexual relations with his wife, his girlfriend, someone he meets in a bar and the great etc of sexual encounters, to ask for a clear “Yes” in order to avoid the possibility of facing a subsequent rape charge. It puts the power, historically male territory, firmly in the hands of women in Spain, a country where sexual offences make the news daily and 1,076 women have been killed by their partners or ex partners since official counting began in 2003.
A second part of this law, the Law of Sexual Freedom, tackles the issue of sexism and guarantees the safety of women, their right to make decisions about their own sexuality and gives them a right to sexual integrity and the right to decide with whom they have sexual relations. This clause is part of the law´s aim to “create a new sexual culture.”
I doubt there are many women who haven´t experienced wolf whistles in the streets, comments about how they are dressed in the office, condemnations about not “being ladylike” when they participate in male dominated sports or professions. Most of us just brush it off until it becomes oppressive or downright dangerous. If you stand up against this type of conduct you may be labelled “anti-social, “antipático”, not fun or a feminist (as if that is an insult) or a lesbian (not an insult either).
Before you write me off as a feminist reactionary I would point out “bullying” and “controlling behaviour” by the boyfriends of schoolgirls in Spain is a widespread problem often leading to domestic violence situations which are sometimes fatal.
The phrase “there´s no harm in it” is clearly inadequate where such behaviour creates a climate that disempowers women (and young girls), affecting the way they dress, behave, view their own bodies and that great etc which can lead to depression, anorexia and a host of other social problems.
The new law will tackle this thorny issue by guaranteeing women´s sexual freedom and safety and including clauses on the re-education of society “to recreate new sexual culture” from infants to adults.
Prostitution and the trafficking of women into sexual slavery are also issues addressed by the law. And here the recent history of Spain gives us an insight into sexist attitudes which prevail today.
I am sure most of my readers have noted the “clubs” with neon signs along the motorways and in the far flung outskirts of towns and villages. These “brothels,” for want of a better term, which often “employ” (and I use the term advisedly) trafficked women and young girls, were illegal (under the legal term the Tercería Locativa) in the Spanish Penal Code of 1949 as part of Spain´s obligations under the Treaty of the Repression of Trafficked persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Strangers (personas lejanas) of 1949″.
The new law will recuperate the illegality of these premises by reinstating the concept of the Terceriá Locativa in order to close them and will establish a National Social Labour Plan for women and children who are victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Spain will be a pioneer in Europe if this comprehensive blueprint becomes law as it recognizes digital sexual violence, trafficking, the corruption of minors and exhibitionism, stalking, female genital mutilation and forced marriages,.
It also provides for special courts specializing in sexual violence with free legal advice and representation and specialized escorts for the victims of sexual violence.
This law, in addition to the recent Euthanasia Law and the Law for Transsexuals’, forms part of Pedro Sanchez´s brief of progressive government.
It is a courageous step forward and an attempt to change the traditional male dominated society where women must grin and bear it.

Will the law change society and encourage a new sexual culture? Maybe, but that will take years of education at all levels. However, in the meantime it will make every woman and young girl in Spain, irrespective of age, race, religion, ethnic origin, colour or immigration status safer and provide assistance and protection for the exploited, raped, offended and insulted under the law.

WILL LEGAL HISTORY MAKE WOMEN SAFER?

June 2019 nexonr features
A recent decision by the Spanish Supreme Court, in a gang rape case during the San Fermin fiestas three years ago, sets a legal precedent which, hopefully, will give women more legal protection.
The case was heard by a lower court in Pamplona, which decided that an 18 year old girl was complicit in her own gang rape because she didn´t say «No» and thus she was sexually assaulted not raped.
This decision led to mass demonstrations by women´s groups all over Spain and pledges by the Government to change the law. One of the three judges found that she gave her consent by her silence.
The defendants in the case, five men, considerably older than the victim and including off duty officers of the Guardia Civil and the Spanish military, called themselves «the pack.» The girl was serial raped by them in a doorway during the fiestas in Pamplona and her mobile phone was stolen by one of her attackers.
The Supreme Court overturned the majority decision of the lower court, (in which one judge disagreed and declared the men innocent), which had found as the victim did not explicitly say «no» it was a case of sexual assault. The Supreme Court found that the girl was silent because she felt threatened and terrified during her ordeal and sentenced four of the men to 15 years in prison and the fifth man, who also stole her mobile, to 17 years. They were ordered to pay substantial compensation to the victim.
The case has caused considerable controversy in Spain where the law clearly leaves women unprotected in sexual assault and rape cases, by requiring that a victim actually says «No.»
Pedro Sanchez, President of Spain, has vowed to change the law to «Yes is Yes» rather than «No is No» and this decision by the Supreme Court sets a precedent for lower courts. However, in a country where sexual offences against women feature in the news weekly, and sometimes daily, and where 1000 women have been killed by their partners or ex partners in the past 15 years, there is clearly a need for new laws, education and changes in the attitude of the establishment and institutions. Women need to feel able to express themselves, socialize, dress and move around freely and safely in an environment of respect where sexual predators will not find any protection from the law.

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