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Spain declares that ‘only yes means yes,’ thanks to its 34-year-old equality minister

August 26, 2022, 11:57 AM UTC
Spain's equality minister Irene Montero at the Congress of Deputies on Thursday, as the country passed legislation redefining consent.
Alejandro Martinez Velez—Europa Press via Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The head of F1 thinks it would take a meteor to get a woman on that race track, Nasdaq has competing interests when it comes to climate change disclosures, and only yes means yes in Spain. Have a restful weekend.

– Yes means yes. In Spain, it’s now law that “only yes means yes.” The country’s congress yesterday passed legislation declaring that consent for sexual activity must be affirmative; silence or lack of objection is not enough.

The legislation stems from a horrific tragedy. In 2016, five men raped an 18-year-old at Pamplona’s bull-running festival. During the men’s trial, their attorney argued that a video of the victim—in which her eyes were closed and she was immobile—was proof of consent.

Originally, the five attackers in the “wolf pack” case were convicted of sexual abuse, a lesser charge than rape, because they didn’t use another form of physical violence during the assault. In addition to redefining consent, the new law makes clear that lack of consent, not dramatic violence, is the defining factor in a charge of rape.

Thirty-four-year-old Spanish equality minister Irene Montero was a driving force behind the legislation. “It’s a victorious day after many years of struggle,” she told the Guardian. “From now on no woman will have to prove that violence or intimidation was used for it to be recognized for what it is.”

Spain’s equality minister Irene Montero at the Congress of Deputies on Thursday, as the country passed legislation redefining consent.
Alejandro Martinez Velez—Europa Press via Getty Images

Montero’s Equality Ministry has been particularly active lately. The branch earlier this summer debuted an ad campaign urging Spanish women to visit the beach with the tagline “all bodies are beach bodies”—although that campaign faced backlash for doctoring images and featuring some women without their permission. The ministry helped push through landmark legislation on transgender rights in Spain about a year ago and helped increase paternity leave for new fathers to 16 weeks.

Of all these efforts, this week’s legislation may be among the most impactful yet. The victim of the 2016 attack remains anonymous, but her mother shared a statement: “This law is the result of the bravery, perseverance and dignity of a girl who knew how she wanted to live without being judged by anyone.”

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

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- Meteor watch. Formula One Group head Stefano Domenicali says he thinks it's unlikely a woman will race an F1 car in the next five years—unless a "meteorite" hits the Earth. Only two women have ever competed at the Grand Prix level. Domenicali's exact comment was: "Unless there is something like a meteorite, I don’t see a girl coming into F1." Washington Post

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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- Tennis Titan. Before Serena Williams, there was Althea Gibson. The first Black player to win Wimbledon and the first Black woman to rank No. 1 in tennis, Gibson battled racism in the sport and, despite her achievements, was often overlooked in the decades that followed. Now a block on 143rd street in Harlem, New York, where Gibson grew up, is being named in her honor. New York Times

- State investigates. California's Civil Rights Department will investigate discrimination claims at Pinterest brought forward by Ifeoma Ozoma and other whistleblowers. The department has contacted several women as potential witnesses in the investigation. "Our discussions with the CCRD are ongoing and we remain committed to reviewing and evolving our people practices to best support our employees," Pinterest said in a statement. Protocol

ON MY RADAR

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Never Have I Ever reexamines South Asian boys' relationships with their moms NBC News

PARTING WORDS

"If I’ve learned anything over the last decade, it is that there is nothing more powerful than an army of angry mothers."

- Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts on the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the gun safety organization, launched after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. 

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