The Spanish government is planning to increase to sixteen the age at which young people may consent to sexual intercourse. At thirteen years old, Spain currently has one of the lowest ages of consent in Europe. In addition plans are afoot to increase the minimum age at which an individual may marry, which currently stands at fourteen years old in Spain. According to the National Institute of Statistics, 345 teenagers aged fifteen or under have got married in Spain in the last ten years.
The Spanish government has already determined that sixteen shall be the minimum age at which a marriage may be legally celebrated, though it is prepared to discuss the age of consent to sexual intercourse with other groups in Parliament before reaching a consensus.
Accordingly, from the age of thirteen consensual sexual intercourse in Spain may not be considered sexual abuse regardless of the age of the other individual. The UN has requested that Spain increase this age to at least fifteen years of age, while the average in Europe is situated just under sixteen years of age.
According to the Ministry of Health the purpose of the new proposals will be to avoid sexual abuse as well as to make the fight against pedophilia more effective. The legislation will seek to classify any sexual act with a person under the age of thirteen as a crime, while participating in a sexual act with an adolescent between the age of thirteen and sixteen will be considered sexual abuse should it be achieved as a result of deception or if it is an abuse of authority, confidence or influence.
The 125 new measures will modify eleven different existing pieces of legislation and will involve classifying those who have suffered sexual abuse as victims of domestic violence with a corresponding register that will permit policies to be implemented that will offer assistance to any such victims.
The penalties contemplated in the new legislation include imprisonment for a period of between two and six years for acts of a ‘sexual nature’ which increases to ten years, if violence is involved and up to twelve years if there is penetration.