The Hamilton Spectator
Spain to close loophole in sexual consent law
MADRID Spain’s government committed Tuesday to amend a new sexual consent law that while intended to increase the protection of women has inadvertently allowed hundreds of sex offenders to get their prison sentences significantly reduced.
The law, known as “only yes means yes,” made verbal consent, or the lack thereof, the key component in cases of alleged sexual assault.
But it also revised the minimum and maximum prison terms for sexual assault convictions, a move that has opened the door to judges shaving months or even years off of convictions for rapists and abusers on appeal.
For the first time since the controversial law entered into force almost four months ago, the coalition government’s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez publicly spoke about a correction to the text.
“The law on sexual freedom has had an unwanted consequence, the reduction of sentences in some cases. This is a technical question that does not reflect the will of the executive,” he told a Senate session Tuesday. “And those unwanted effects, of course, we are going to correct them.”
Since the law took effect, over 300 convicted sex offenders have had their sentences shortened and at least 30 who had been near the end of their sentences have been released from prison.
That has led to an outcry by women’s groups and consternation among the general public, putting pressure on the government to act.
Changing the law, however, could produce tensions during an election year between Sánchez’s ruling Socialists and their junior partner, the anti-austerity “United We Can” party.