A judge asks the Government to include street sexist harassment as a crime


A Madrid judge has asked the Government to include street sexual harassment as a crime in the Penal Code as a result of a case in which the proven stalker has been acquitted because uttering offensive phrases towards a minor on the street does not currently fit into a type. The magistrate of the Court of Instruction number five of Majadahonda formally requests it in a sentence distributed by the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid and sent for study to the Executive of Pedro Sánchez. “I understand that we are dealing specifically with an assumption that affects the relevant legal rights of the complainant and the result of which generates unjustified impunity,” says the ruling.

The keys to the sexual freedom law that begins the process after its approval by the Council of Ministers

The keys to the sexual freedom law that begins the process after its approval by the Council of Ministers

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The magistrate states in his resolution that the crimes of “slight injury” and “unjust humiliation” were “decriminalized in 2015” and, therefore, this fact prevents him in this specific case from criminally punishing the behavior of the accused. The petition addressed to the Government of Spain, which the judges are empowered to make according to the Penal Code, is made while the Law of Sexual Freedom is being processed, a norm whose preliminary draft approved in March in the Council of Ministers punishes “those who go to another person with sexual or sexist expressions, behaviors or propositions that create an objectively humiliating, hostile or intimidating situation for the victim, without constituting other more serious crimes ”.

With current legislation, however, the sentence specifies, this type of act could only fall within the crime of coercion, but provided that it is shown that they prevent the victim from doing something. In this case, the magistrate considers it proven that “Francisco – the defendant – got out of his vehicle and addressed S. – the plaintiff, a minor – calling him” pretty. “She asked him to stop saying that to her. that Francisco replied that “how could he not call her pretty with the great body she had”, picks up the ruling. The victim continued to recriminate her attitude and then he “began to follow her for a few seconds (about fifteen) calling her a” whore “several times and also telling him on several occasions that women “are disgusting.”

“In essence, it is an unlawful restriction of freedom, through the imposition of a certain behavior or the prohibition of the exercise of a right violating the will of the person who suffers it and his self-determination. But in the present case, the defendant he did not carry out violent or intimidating behavior properly intended to prevent anything or compel him to do anything, “says the sentence, which specifies that the victim reported that he could not withdraw money from the ATM for these events, but that has not been proven. “The defendant could not fully know that going to the ATM to withdraw money was the intention of the complainant, nor that with his compliments and then with his insults he prevented said action,” says the judge.

The magistrate recalls in the ruling that several states such as France, Portugal, Peru or Argentina, have regulated this type of street harassment behavior. “It would be desirable that these forms of low intensity street harassment in which there is an unjustified restriction of the freedom and tranquility of women” had an express definition of criminal law, says the judge in the testimony sent to the Government.

Article 4.2 of the Penal Code empowers the judges to refer to the Executive “actions or omissions that, without being punished by the Law” that they consider “worthy of repression”. In this sentence, the magistrate argues that street verbal harassment “is a situation that affects the freedom and due peace of those who suffer it, and that in our country it does not find a fit in any criminal type.” In the resolution that will reach the Ministry of Justice, the judge insists that these situations suppose a “specifically macho delimitation of the public space, imposing on a woman the obligation to endure being addressed to her making her see how physically pleasant she is” and warns that “usually becomes, when there is an express rejection of the woman, in verbal aggressions like those that occurred here”.

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