Rape law ‘Solo sí es sí’ to come into force from Friday in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
rape law

From Friday, 7 October, all sexual acts without explicit consent will fall under rape as part of the law in Spain. ‘Solo si es si’, is a law with safeguards for sexual freedom. It removes the distinction between sexual aggression and abuse and makes consent central. 

After a year of legislative procedures, this law enters into force on Friday. And with it, new wording of the penal code. This includes all behaviour that violates sexual freedom without the consent of the other person. Consequently, this will now be considered rape. With this new Spanish rape law, the turnaround in the criminal definition of rape continues. For a long time in Europe, rape was only considered rape if the victim demonstrably resisted. For example, if the rapist used violence. 

New definition for consent 

Consent will also get a new definition as of next Friday: ‘Consent is given only if it is freely expressed by acts which, in the circumstances of the case, clearly express the will of the person’. 

Sexual violence 

The following will also be considered as sexual violence;

  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • harassment with sexual connotations
  • trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation

Furthermore, killing in connection with sexual violence is considered the most serious human rights violation. 

In addition to these changes, other measures will be implemented, such as the right to specialised and accessible general assistance to victims of sexual violence, without the need for prior complaint. 

Crisis centres 

Moreover, crisis centres must be established, with public services providing permanent care for female victims of sexual violence – at least one per province – and so-called children’s homes, with specialised care for minors who have suffered the same kind of violence. At the same time, specialisation in sexual violence becomes mandatory for the forensic evaluation units assisting the courts for violence against women, among other measures. 

23 October also part of law in force 

Although much of the law comes into force on Friday, October 7, Title IV of the law on the right to comprehensive specialised assistance and Title VI, which deals with accessing and obtaining justice, will apply from October 2023. 

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