Spain’s lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies, approved on Thursday a pioneering new law aimed at protecting children and adolescents against violence. The legislation was voted through with an absolute majority – a far from a common outcome in the current divisive political climate – with 268 votes in favor, 57 against and 16 abstentions.
The new legislation is known as the “Rhodes law” in recognition of campaigning by British concert pianist James Rhodes in defense of children’s rights. The British pianist, a Madrid resident who suffered sexual abuse when he was a boy, has been one of the most public faces pushing for a law to combat violence suffered by youngsters and adolescents.
Child defense organizations have been demanding legal reform to protect minors for years. In 2010, the Committee for the Rights of the Child recommended Spain approve a law to protect children and in 2017, Congress voted in favor of a non-binding resolution on the urgency of a new law on children’s rights. Despite this, it took four years for the law to come to pass. The child protection law is the first legislative measure from the Social Rights Ministry, which is headed by Ione Belarra, from Unidas Podemos. Speaking to Congress, Belarra, who took over from Pablo Iglesias when he resigned to run as a candidate in the Madrid regional election, explained the law “had high consensus, but low intensity.”