Denmark toughens its Rape Law: In a landmark decision on Thursday, Denmark toughened its rape law. The law now has criminalized sex without ‘explicit consent’, emerging as a long awaited victory for human rights activists and sexual assault survivors.
The law, which will be coming into effect January 1 onwards, was unanimously approved by lawmakers. Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup said, “Now it becomes clear that if both parties do not agree to sex, then it is rape.”
The original law was required to present a proof of violence, threat or an evidence that the victim was unsuccessful in resisting the assault, in order to bring a rape charge. But the revised legislation has defined the clauses more explicitly.
On a global scale, Denmark has been a clear leader on gender equality and justice access indices. The country’s already existing laws against sexual assault have criminalized marital rape, and also the legal explanation of rape to include acts “other than sexual intercourse”. But the women in Denmark have long accused the country’s lawmakers and justice department of lacking in offering victim protection. Moreover, last year Amnesty International called Denmark’s law “a pervasive rape culture and endemic impunity for rapists.”
The “revised legislation” has been welcomed by women rights groups and assault survivors. Kirstine Holst, a freelance journalist said, “Rape is violence in itself. You shouldn’t need other types of violence to prove it.”
The “consent based clause” in the law was initially opposed by few politicians, but now they have changed their standpoint and welcomed the law amid right groups campaigning for the law. Pape Poulsen, a conservative lawmaker, was initially against the “unpractical” law, but came out in its support last year after hearing plight of an assault survivor.
He tweeted in March 2019, “Dear @amnesty. Thanks so much for putting this on the agenda. We must ensure that Danish legislation reflects the fact that sex shall always be voluntary. It is utterly important to bring justice to sexual assault victims.”
Amnesty International’s women’s rights researcher Anna Blaus said, “This is a great day for women in Denmark as it consigns outdated and dangerous rape laws to the dustbin of history and helps to end pervasive stigma and endemic impunity for this crime.”
Amnesty reports that with this law, Denmark has become 12th European country to criminalize non-consensual sex and consider it as rape.