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Thousands march for International Women’s Day in Spain as lawmakers debate sexual consent law

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Spain on Wednesday for International Women’s day.

In Barcelona, several thousand female students marched through the city centre, many wearing purple and waving banners reading: “Feminism means fighting” and “We’re brave and we want to be free”.

And in Madrid, demonstrators prepared for the main march at 19:00 local time under the slogan: “We are fighting against a patriarchy… that fights ad nauseam against rights — such as the right to abortion — that we have won through struggle.”

Although Spain has for years produced one of the world’s biggest turnouts on 8 March, this year’s marches are marked by a division within its own left-wing government over a sexual violence law that has inadvertently led to the reduction of sentences for hundreds of sexual offenders.

A woman holds a banner that says: “The police don’t take care of us. Our friends take care of us”.AP Photo

On Tuesday, the country’s two ruling left-wing parties clashed over the law and proposed reforms after it led to the reduction of sentences for over 700 offenders and caused national outrage.

United We Can, which sponsored the new law last year, voted late Tuesday against Parliament considering a reform proposed by the Socialists to restore higher prison terms for future sexual offenders. 

But the proposed modification was cleared with the rare backing of the conservative party that leads the opposition.

Thousands march in Mexico

International Women’s Day demonstrations were also seen in cities around the world including Mexico.

Thousands of women marched in the country’s capital on Wednesday amidst a strong police presence. “I am tired of going out every day, to work, to school, and receiving any kind of harassment,” said Fernanda Corona, a protester in Mexico City. 

A woman holds a sign during a march against gender-based violence, marking International Women’s Day.AP Photo

“I am tired of being condemned to live this every day because I am a woman.”

A day earlier, there were mass demonstrations in the city as protesters marched against violence directed at women. And they accused the country’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of not doing enough to stop a rise in femicides. 

Harassment and violence against women in Mexico is widespread, with an estimated 20 women killed every day.

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