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Consent the key in Spain's new sex crimes draft bill

MADRID (AP) — The Spanish government Tuesday approved a new draft bill on sex crimes that makes consent a key determinant in cases, freeing victims of having to prove that violence or intimidation was used against them.

The “Only Yes is Yes” bill comes in the wake of the furor raised in Spain over a gang-rape case during the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016. Initially, the five accused in the case were found guilty of sexual abuse, but not rape, as the victim wasn't deemed to have objected to what was happening.

Equality Minister Irene Montero said the Sexual Liberties Law will make clear that there has to be “explicit expression of consent" by women if sexual acts aren't to be considered crimes. Montero, a member of the United We Can leftist party, said the bill was driven by Spain’s feminist movement and will make Spain an international reference and “a safer country for women.”

The bill needs to be debated and approved by parliament and will take several months before becoming law. If passed, the bill will provide 24-hour centers for victims staffed by specially trained personnel. It also envisages special courts for such crimes as well as campaigns to make people more aware of the need to eradicate sexual violence.

The Socialist-led coalition government describes itself as feminist and progressive.

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