what is spain’s ‘only yes means yes’ law and how can it help sexual assault survivors
Europe – Spain’s parliament approved a bill in May that makes consent a key determinant in sexual assault cases. The Guarantee of Sexual Freedom Bill, also known as the ‘Only Yes Means Yes’ bill in Spain, defines consent as an explicit expression of a person’s will.
How can it help sexual assault survivors?
Under this law, survivors of sexual abuse or violence will not have to prove that they were raped. If they did not clearly state their consent to the sexual act, it would count as rape in Spain. Silence would also count as rape, which means ‘Only Yes Means Yes’.
As per the Bill, perpetrators could get up to 15 years of the jail sentence. The draft will face a vote in the Senate before it can become law.
Why was this initiative started?
The initiative was driven by the legal and social fallout from a gruesome gang rape case six years ago. Tesnion was caused by a gang-rape case during the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016. Women took to the streets and demanded sexual freedom from the government because five men raped the 18-year-old girl. Two of the abusers also filmed the incident.
Only Yes Means Yes
The court pointed out that the survivor did not verbally object to what was happening to her. Later on, the accused persons were only charged with sexual assault and not rape because of the silence of the victim. The sentences prompted widespread protests. Other European countries also protested against the judgement.
Spain’s Supreme Court later overruled lower courts’ judgement and sentenced the five men to 15 years in prison for a rape conviction.
With the newly passed bill which is yet to become a law, survivors do not have to prove anything. The new bill also states that silence means ‘No’. Non-consensual sex can be considered aggression.