Spain’s new sex abuse law has resulted in a prison sentence row

Spain’S New Sex Abuse Law Has Resulted In A Prison Sentence Row
📷 During a protest against the release on bail of five men known as the "Wolf Pack," who were found not guilty of the lesser crime of sexual abuse but cleared of the gang rape of a girl, protesters sit down in front of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, Spain, on June 22, 2018. (Image: Susana Vera for Reuters)

A dispute has broken out in Spain after it was revealed that a landmark law toughening penalties for sex offenses is being abused by attorneys to lessen their clients’ existing sentences.

The controversial 2016 Manada or “wolf pack,” case, in which five men raped an 18-year-old woman in Pamplona, inspired the “only yes means yes” statute.

Last month, the new law went into force.

According to Spanish media, the adjustment allows at least four sex offenders to leave jail early.

In at least eight other cases, lawyers have obtained sentence reductions for convicted abusers.

Agustn Martnez, a lawyer for the Manada gang, also claimed that he was attempting to decrease the sentence of one of the five people convicted in the attack.

This is because the Spanish criminal code specifies that when a new law is passed, new punishments can be retroactively imposed to convicted criminals if they stand to benefit.

As a result, several lawyers contended that because the new law provided lower minimum terms, the prior sentences should be decreased.

Spain’s Equality Minister, Irene Montero, defended the new law, claiming that “machismo may cause certain judges to implement the law erroneously.”

Prof Carlos Flores, a law lecturer at the University of Valencia, told the BBC that Ms Montero’s comment “provoked controversy within the legal profession,” and that she had “chosen to put all the blame on the judges, and not accept a mistake.” Her charge of male chauvinist bias was likewise denied by the major judicial groups.

“Because women make about 55% of Spanish judges, criticising them for machismo is an insult. And, for a long time, judges have been receiving legal education on gender issues “Prof Flores brought this up.

This controversy is especially troubling for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s government, which has made gender equality a prominent policy priority since taking office in early 2020.

One of the government’s most significant reforms, the new law was brought about by the public’s fury over the five defendants’ first nine-year prison sentences after they were found guilty of sexual abuse but not rape. The Supreme Court upped the prison penalties to 15 years in 2019 in response to widespread protests.

The men were exonerated of rape at the initial trial on the grounds that neither violence nor intimidation had been used.

What is the new law?

According to the new Guarantee of Sexual Freedom law, victims no longer need to demonstrate that they were subjected to violence or intimidation or that they actively resisted in order to establish that they had been sexually assaulted. Without consent, any sexual act will be construed as assault.

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