Law against sexual violence officially approved in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
new law against sexual violence

MADRID – An important day for victims of sexual violence in Spain! Today the law ‘Sólo sí es sí’ was approved in Spain. A law that provides for higher penalties for offenders and compensation for victims. The goal: No woman should feel alone. 

In March 2020, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved the bill against sexual violence. After 16 months of political discussion about this law, the government of Spain today says ‘yes’ to the law. Furthermore, the new law is known as ‘Sólo sí es sí’ (Only yes is yes). 

Express consent for sexual acts 

The key to assessing sexual assault is whether there has been explicit consent. Therefore, the law states: “There is consent only when it has been freely expressed through acts that clearly show the subject has consented.” 

Moreover, with this reform, victims no longer have to prove they have been subjected to violence or that they have resisted when sexual assault is involved. Previously this was reversed; cases were only considered sexual assault if victims could demonstrate that they had resisted. 

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What acts does Spanish law consider sexual violence? 

As such, any sexual act without consent is considered a form of aggression. ‘Sexual abuse’ is hereby deleted from the penal code. Acts considered sexual assault as of today include assault, intimidation, exhibitionism, stalking or intimidation in the street, sexual solicitation, prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, corruption of minors, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, sexual femicide, sexual violence spread by technological means (online), sexual extortion and involuntary pornography. 

Penalties are up to 15 years 

Under the new law, an offender convicted of a sexual offense could face a fine. Likewise, a prison sentence of up to 15 years is also a possibility. However, aggravating circumstances can lead to years of extra imprisonment. Some examples of this are group aggression, extreme vulnerability of the victim or the use of weapons or narcotics. 

Crisis centres and children’s homes for victims of sexual violence in Spain 

As announced a year ago, 24/7 crisis centers will be set up to assist victims. The new law also provides for the prevention of sexual violence by raising awareness and guiding victims. For child victims, the law provides for the detection of this type of violence against children and special supervision of minors. There will also be special ‘children’s homes’ where all necessary procedures are carried out to provide maximum protection for children in these situations. 

Victim support is being expanded 

The law provides that victims of sexual violence will receive more support and resources from the police and courts. This includes financial benefits, equivalent to six months of unemployment benefits, for victims of sexual violence who earn less than the minimum wage. 

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