Published: 28th May 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: New law approved in Spain against sexual assaults, now 'Only yes means yes'
We decode the reason behind this decision and understand how the Indian Penal Code of India deals with sexual assault cases
In a great initiative, Spain takes a step forward in making women's voices and choices considered in sexual assault cases. A new Bill has been approved by the Spain Parliament that makes consent a very important determinant in sexual assault cases and which helps in freeing survivors of how to prove that an act or action of violence or intimidation was faced by them.
The Bill named 'Only yes means yes' aims to tackle the nebulous definition of consent in Spanish law, as stated in a report by The Guardian. In the absence of this Bill, the law was dependent on the evidence of violence and intimidation to figure out whether an assault or sexual act happened or not. But what's the reason behind this decision and how does the Indian Penal Code of India deal with sexual assault cases? We disclose these details through today's #WhatTheFAQ.
What does the new law say?
It defines consent as an explicit expression of a person’s will, clarifying that silence or passivity does not mean giving consent. Non-consensual sex can be considered aggression and subject to prison terms of up to 15 years.
What is the reason for this implementation?
Dated back to 2016, an incident that shook the country was the rape of an 18-year-old woman by five men at a bull-running festival in Pamplona in northern Spain.
Instead of getting serious punishment for the sexual assault, the men, who term themselves the 'wolf pack', were convicted of sexual abuse initially. During the assault, two filmed it during which the woman was silent and passive the judges inferred this fact as consensual. This incident highlighted the way Spain's existing criminal code viewed evidence, violence and intimidation as key factors for rape and this triggered demonstrations across the country to demand reform.
What is the connotation of India's law?
According to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, assault without consent is punishable but there are other acts where the law considers consent to be clear and voluntary. In legal terms, Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as "sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age."
The IPC defines consent as, "an unequivocal voluntary agreement when the woman by words, gestures or any form of verbal or non-verbal communication, communicates a willingness to participate in the specific sexual act”. In simpler terms, consent is defined as clear, voluntary communication given by a woman for a certain sexual act. As marital rape is not a crime under the IPC considering the woman is above 18 years of age, marital rape is exempted to give consent.
What are the horrific rape cases India encountered?
1. The Nirbhaya case shook the whole of India in December 2012, when an anonymous girl was kidnapped, physically harmed and raped by six men in front of her friend. While one rapist committed suicide, the other 4 were given death sentences, sending the juvenile to remand, who was released after two years.
2. In 2019, in Hyderabad, two lorry drivers, along with their assistants, punctured a veterinary doctor's vehicle and kidnapped her by pretending to help, brutally raped her and pushed her into the bushes. The rapists were later killed in an encounter. The police claim that the doctor was kidnapped when she stopped at a toll plaza near Shamshabad.
These are just the two among many heartwrenching and horrific rape incidents encountered in India.