May 10, 2021

Congress passes the first law that protects children from violence by a large majority


The Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents against Violence is one step away from being a reality in Spain. Congress has given the green light this Thursday to the opinion from the Social Rights Commission by 268 votes in favor, 57 against – from Vox and the PNV, although for different reasons – and 16 abstentions. The rule has the consensus of the majority of children’s groups and organizations, which have been demanding it for years, and it has been widely celebrated by the plenary as “a before and after” in our country. But it also maintains open some discrepancies that have been evidenced in the debate and that will foreseeably finish being polished in the Senate, where the text is now directed.

Pedophilia crimes will take five more years to prescribe after an amendment to the Children's Law that is voted on this Thursday

Pedophilia crimes will take five more years to prescribe after an amendment to the Children’s Law that is voted on this Thursday

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His passage through the Lower House has occurred just over a decade after the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended to Spain the implementation of a legal framework similar to that of the Law against Gender Violence. In other words, that it was comprehensive and deployed measures in all areas. Most of the groups have highlighted the work done during the presentation and the incorporation of relevant issues that have substantially modified the text, which started with harsh criticism from feminist and children’s organizations: of the 600 amendments presented, more than 200, along with 75 transactional, the last was agreed this Wednesday to extend the time victims have to report serious crimes.

Thus, among other things, the law lengthens the statute of limitations for pedophilia, which will begin to count when the survivors are 35 years old and not 18, as is currently the case. It also protects the right of children to be heard in the procedures that affect them and gives greater value to their testimony or establishes the duty for any citizen to communicate if they are present or have knowledge of a situation of abuse, even when it is not constitutive of crime. In the judicial sphere, the pre-constituted test will be generalized, which implies that boys and girls aged 14 and under are not obliged to testify more than once when they are victims of a crime and encourages the approval of specific protocols in protection centers or the who do sports activities.

All the groups except for the extreme right of Vox have celebrated the step forward that the norm supposes, whose draft was approved in second reading last summer by the Council of Ministers. The Minister of Social Rights and Agenda 2030, Ione Belarra, spoke at the end of the plenary debate on behalf of the Government and stressed that the text “has a fundamental role”, that of “sending a clear message and promoting a change in paradigm such as the one already promoted by the Law against Gender Violence in 2004 “. Because “a democratic society can neither actively nor passively tolerate violence against children”, he stated before accusing the Church before the complaints of the popular caucus of being “an accomplice on too many occasions” by “covering up sexual violence “.

SAP ban

The general tone of the session has been marked by applause for the rule, which according to the deputy of United We Can Lucia Muñoz will make violence against children “stop being a private matter to become a public matter” that appeals to the whole society. And the fact is that the figures, which the socialist parliamentarian Sonia Guerra has put on the table, speak for themselves: “Every year, 38,000 minors in our country suffer violence.” But it is a mistreatment that is usually silenced and hidden. “Only one in five denounce – Guerra continued -. That is, of every 100 who suffer violence, 80 silence it.” They are estimates, because the lack of data is one of the blind spots that prevents drawing the real map of this violence and one of the things that the law seeks to solve with the creation of an information registry.

Party representatives have risen to the rostrum, highlighting some of the contributions made by the text: among them the prohibition of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), non-existent and not endorsed by scientific organizations that is used to deprive women in custody of their sons and daughters who have frequently reported sexual or gender-based violence by the father. Also the reinforcement of the protection of minors in cases of sexist violence, through the incorporation of vicarious violence in the Comprehensive Law against Gender Violence or the suspension of the visitation regime if the father has a restraining order, Unless the judge issues a resolution that is motivated in the best interests of the minor and after an evaluation of the parent-child relationship.

Also on the right, the law has aroused favorable positions. Both Ciudadanos and the PP have applauded its approval for being an “important legislative advance”, in the words of Sara Giménez, of the orange party. However, they have also highlighted some issues that they consider to be pending in the parliamentary debate, among them, that it has a “budgetary guarantee” so that it does not happen as with the dependency, which in many cases has not given the answer I needed. ” The popular Alicia García has lamented that “the law is late” and has made Pablo Iglesias, a former minister, “try to appropriate it.” ERC has not intervened because its group is confined after the positive in COVID of one of its members.

Criticisms of the nationalists

However, the deepest criticism has come from nationalist groups and Vox. Both Bildu, as BNG and the PNV have lamented the “invasion of competence” that in their opinion implies the norm, although at the same time they have highlighted its importance, a balance that has conditioned the sense of their vote: abstention, in favor and against , respectively. Beyond the autonomic question, the Bildu parliamentarian, Mertxe Aizpurua, has specified in her turn some of the elements of the law that she considers “improvable” and that her group will maintain in the form of amendments for the debate in the Senate: In the judgment, “institutional violence has been left unattended” or it is “dangerous” for Social Services to be given the status of authority, something that other groups oppose.

Also preventing the evictions of families with children is another point that causes friction and that both Aizpurua and Muñoz, from United We Can, have highlighted. The purple formation has taken the opportunity to demand from the rostrum its government partner, the PSOE, to support the amendment that it keeps alive in this regard, and that has not been approved in plenary session, as well as the one that seeks to prohibit the attendance of less than bullfighting shows, which the Socialists have not endorsed either.

But the most strident intervention has been that of Vox, which has used its turn to fix positions to refer to abortion and the family and thus justify its vote against. Even the deputy Sara López has come to expose a photo of a newborn baby: “You who do not defend life from conception want to cleanse your consciences with this law. Protecting childhood is not promoting abortion. That is violence against women. life of a baby and of mothers who are not given any help to cope with the great experience of their life, “he claimed in the first minutes of his speech. The extreme right has once again drawn its artillery against feminism, and has accused the other parties of “introducing its pact with the devil of gender and promoting the anti-family culture” in a norm that, it has concluded, “seeks the destruction of the family, life and Spain “.

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