Spain to introduce new law requiring 'explicit consent' for sex

Judge holding gavel in courtroom
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Spain's socialist government is set to introduce a strict new law on consent, aimed at clearing up uncertainty in rape cases.

Under the new legislation, any sex without explicit consent would be considered as rape, and silence would also be considered a 'no'.

"If a woman does not expressly say yes, then everything else is no," Spain's deputy prime minister and equality minister Carmen Calvo Poyato said, according to The Guardian.

In New Zealand, rape is considered to be sexual intercourse without consent. A person does not consent to sexual activity just because they do not protest or physically resist the activity.

Under current Spanish law, rape must involve violence and intimidation. The law was widely criticised when a recent high-profile court case saw a gang-rape charge downgraded to a sexual assault charge, with one judge interpreting the female victim's silence as consent.

Sweden's government introduced a similar law on consent on July 1, under which the lack of consent is enough to constitute a crime, as "sex must be voluntary".

It's a change from previous legislation on rape convictions, which required the use of violence or threats by the perpetrator or a victim's vulnerability being exploited.

While the legislation is less specific than the Spanish law when it comes to explicit consent, it says that passivity does not equate to consent.

"If a person wants to engage in sexual activities with someone who remains inactive or gives ambiguous signals, he or she will therefore have to find out if the other person is willing."

Amnesty International is calling for the rest of Europe to follow Sweden and introduce new consent laws, saying the majority of countries don't meet the international human rights standard that considers rape as the absence of consent.


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