Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. Picture: EPA-EFE
LONDON: Spain is to introduce a new rape law that will criminalise sex without explicit mutual consent after public outcry over the assault of a woman at the Pamplona bull-running festival.

Five men were cleared of gang-raping the 18-year-old woman during the 2016 festival and convicted of the lesser crime of sexual abuse, in part because the victim reportedly remained silent during the attack.

“If she says no, it means no; and if she does not say yes, it also means no,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told parliament as he made the pledge this week, according the El Pais website.

The proposed legislation is aimed at removing ambiguity in rape cases, and is similar to a law that recently came into force in Sweden.

Spain now joins a small number of countries, including Britain and Canada, where lack of consent in sex is considered a crime without the need to show threats or physical violence.

An Amnesty spokesperson said the rights group was “very happy to hear about the announcement and the government’s willingness to recognise in law that sex without consent is rape”.

Virginia Gil, director of Spain’s Aspacia Foundation, which campaigns against violence, gave the move a cautious welcome, but said a lack of detail made it hard to know whether it would be effective in protecting victims. 

Reuters/African News Agency