Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain.

Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain - Archive photo

03-03-2020Juan Medina, Reuters

The Spanish government approved a new draft law that promises tougher sentences for sex crimes.

Under the new proposals, all non-consensual sex will be classed as rape, anyone found guilty of sexual harassment could be jailed for up to 2 years and shouting obscenities or making crude or degrading comments will be illegal.

The Central Government also wants to set up special courts to deal with sex offences 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and create recovery centres for victims.

The issue of gender violence has been front and centre in Spain since the so-called Wolf Pack trial.

5 men who raped a teenager during the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona in 2016 were acquitted of rape and found guilty of the lesser crime of sexual assault, because they had not used violence during the attack.

The sentence provoked anger around the world and sparked mass protests against the conviction. An appeal was launched in 2019 and the Supreme Court ruled that the men had raped the victim.

The Spanish Equality Minister, Irene Montero has welcomed the new draft law.

“Spain will be a safer country for women with the approval of this law and women's rights and sexual freedoms will never again be stranded down a blind alley,” she said.

The announcement of the approval of the new bill comes just days before International Women's Day on Sunday which will be marked with rallies throughout Spain and the rest of the world.

Maria Solanas, Director of the Elcano Royal Institute think-tank, said the proposed legislation would make Spain the first country in the world, to implement all the recommendations of the 2014 Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, in one bill.

According to Amnesty International, only 9 of 31 European countries have laws that define rape based on the absence of consent, instead of whether violence or the threat of violence was used.

Under the new regulations, sexual abuse and sexual assault both be qualified as rape and the use of physical violence, drugs or alcohol will result in harsher sentences.

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