Overhaul of Spanish law aims to improve women’s sexual rights, but opponents of new policies say it’s an attack on ‘traditional’ gender behavior
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The Spanish Congress has banned catcalling as part of a number of new legislative changes focused on improving women’s sexual rights.
Most notably, the country’s controversial rape law has been reformed, under which any non-consensual penetration will now be considered rape, whether or not violence or intimidation was used.
According to the bill, comments, proposals or behavior of a sexual nature that cause “a situation of humiliation, hostility or intimidation” for the victim will be punishable by a fine, community service or house arrest for up to one month.
The left-wing government (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) celebrated the passing of the “feminist penal code”, with right-wing parties opposing the legislation, saying it curtails men’s right to the presumption of innocence, and attacks traditional gender behavior.
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Carla Toscano, MP for the far-right Vox party, founded in 2013, said she was saddened that complimenting women on their looks would be banned from Spanish streets.
“Remember the one who said ‘tell me your name and I’ll ask you for Christmas,'” she said, citing the popular whistle as an example of “popular admiration and ingenuity”. masculine.
The change follows similar measures in France, Belgium and Canada, which have also banned street harassment or street calls in recent times.
Ms Toscano, meanwhile, who was once seen sporting a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan #NotMeToo in opposition to the anti-sexual harassment movement, was applauded by members of her party as she accused the government of promoting the “hatred of beauty and men”.
Equalities Minister Irene Montero, for her part, defended the reform as “a decisive step towards changing the sexual culture of this country”.
“From today, Spain is a freer and safer country for all women. We will trade violence for freedom. We will trade fear for desire,” she said. .
Sexual rights reform in Spain came in response to large feminist protests four years ago, when five men were acquitted of rape – instead convicted of the lesser charge of sexual assault – although they forced an 18-year-old woman to have sex with them in a bull. running party.
The previous law lacked a clear definition of consent and instead relied on evidence of violence, resistance or intimidation to determine whether a rape had occurred.
The woman in the case in question in 2018 said she was “frozen by fear”, preventing her from resisting, which experts describe as a common reaction during a sexual assault.
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The five men were eventually found guilty of rape by Spain’s Supreme Court on a second appeal in a ruling that bullying could be atmospheric and not necessarily expressed, but by then the government was already planning reform .
For the conservative opposition People’s Party, the reform “endangers the presumption of innocence” because “it reverses the burden of proof” on the accused, who will then have to prove his consent.
The reform, which is broadly aimed at helping women and girls gain more freedom in their personal relationships and the ability to make decisions about their bodies, includes a number of measures aimed at reducing the culture of rape, including the prohibition of advertising for pornography and forced sex. education in schools for all age groups.
Victims of sexual violence will also be entitled to the social and economic assistance recently made available to victims of domestic violence.
24-hour crisis centers will be opened in many places to offer victims of sexual violence psychological, legal and social support, once the reform is passed by the upper house of the Senate and becomes law.