Spain to make reporting violence against children mandatory

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s cabinet on Tuesday approved a decree designed to protect children from violence, making it mandatory to report abuse for anyone who detects it and extending the time period in which victims can report abuse they suffered as children.

Nearly 38,000 minors were victims of violence in Spain in 2018 – but the government estimates that only one in five crimes committed against children is reported, meaning the number could be five times higher.

“It is a landmark step for current and future generations of children and teenagers to grow up free of violence,” said vice-president Pablo Iglesias, who is responsible for social rights, after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Under existing legislation, once a victim turns 18 they have a limited time window in which to report the abuse they endured, ranging from five to 20 years depending on the crime’s severity.

The new law would delay the start of this countdown until victims turn 30 for the most serious crimes, effectively giving victims more time to report severe abuse.

The decree, which now has to be approved by parliament, is named “Rhodes Law” after the British concert pianist James Rhodes, who was raped as a child and wrote his testimony in an autobiography with harrowing details.

Rhodes now lives in Spain and has advised the Spanish government on the legislation.

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