Spain ERC and Bildu join in hardening the penalties of 'yes is yes' and offer Podemos a different way out than that of the PSOE

ERC and EH Bildu have presented a proposal this morning to toughen the penalties for sexual assaults that lowered the law of only yes is yes

Spain ERC and Bildu join in hardening the penalties of 'yes is yes' and offer Podemos a different way out than that of the PSOE

ERC and EH Bildu have presented a proposal this morning to toughen the penalties for sexual assaults that lowered the law of only yes is yes. The two groups propose that the use of violence or intimidation be considered an aggravating circumstance, but without affecting the relevance of consent, which opens the door for Podemos to join the reform.

The two formations have presented this Holy Thursday morning in the Justice Commission of Congress their proposals for amendments to the text with which the PSOE wants to return to toughen the penalties that the reform promoted by the Ministry of Equality softened.

United We Can considered the socialist text unacceptable. But the ERC-EH Bildu proposal offers a way to toughen the penalties without, according to the two groups, affecting consent in the least, which is what Podemos presents as a red line when it comes to reforming its law.

The amendments registered today propose that the use of violence or intimidation in a sexual assault be considered as an aggravating circumstance that raises both the minimum and the maximum penalty. In the PSOE proposal, violence or intimidation was given an even greater centrality, which according to Podemos, ERC and EH Bildu meant questioning consent as the true axis of the crime of sexual assault. These last two groups had opposed the PSOE's reform proposal, aligning themselves with the ministry of Irene Montero.

"On the contrary", say ERC and EH Bildu in their explanation of the amendments, "this proposal understands that the seriousness of the violence must remain as an aggravating factor of the criminal type, not be reinstated as a qualified type, as long as it is foreseeable that this, in practice, it leads to blurring to the point of making invisible that the violent characteristic of the type of sexual assault revolves around the lack of consent. It is therefore proposed to maintain the wording of the text currently in force".

The toughening of penalties without affecting consent opens up a clear possibility that Unidas Podemos can join this reform. In the unsuccessful negotiations with the PSOE, one of the options that was considered was the one that now proposes resorting to a new aggravating circumstance.

The amendments presented today even reinforce the importance of consent in the yes is yes law, according to their authors, which would make it easier for Equality to agree to join the reform. They do so by proposing that it be added to the definition of consent that "it shall not be deduced" that it exists "due to the absence of physical resistance or the silence of the victim, nor due to her previous sexual conduct."

"This definition of consent", explain ERC and EH Bildu in the motivation for the amendment, "would have more influence on the evidentiary aspect that determines the impunity of many procedures. It would also allow alignment with international standards. The current wording continues to carry the weight in the negative performance of women".

In the imposition of penalties, however, the result of the ERC and EH Bildu amendments would be very similar to that of the PSOE text. Sexual assault would have an aggravated penalty "when violence or intimidation has been used." In the current text, it is only aggravating when there is "extremely serious" violence, which leaves out most of the cases.

If the amendment is approved, the penalty range for a penetrative sexual assault (ie, rape) with violence or intimidation would go from seven to 15 years. It would even mean that the minimum would become higher than that prior to the law of yes is yes. Then it was six years, that the Equality law dropped to four and that with the proposal of ERC and EH Bildu it would be seven when violence or intimidation occurred.

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