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Non-consensual Sex to be Tried as Rape: Denmark Brings in Landmark Law against Sexual Violence

The Danish government is set to pass laws that will allow prosecution of all consensual acts of sex as rape | Image credit: Reuters

The Danish government is set to pass laws that will allow prosecution of all consensual acts of sex as rape | Image credit: Reuters

The new Danish law would specify that sexual consent must be given voluntarily and as an expression of an individual’s free will through words or action and will allow sex without explicit consent to be prosecuted as rape.

In a landmark decision, Denmark will be changing the country’s sexual violence laws to allow sex without explicit consent to be prosecuted as rape. Several left-leaning parties have agreed to represent a majority of lawmakers in parliament to enact the change.

While mo date for a formal vote has as yet been announced, but the legal change is expected to be adopted by the end of 2020.

Under a deal reached by Denmark’s minority Social Democratic government and the left-wing parties, Danish law would specify that sexual consent must be given voluntarily and as an expression of an individual’s free will through words or action.

This is one of the most important battles for gender equality in Denmark that has taken place for a very long time, Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup said after the agreement was announced Wednesday. We must have changed societys understanding of what rape is, and a new consent-based rape provision is a milestone in that effort.

Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Britain already have similar laws. It means that prosecutors in cases of rape (and the victim) do not have to prove the threat or use of violence or physical force to prove rape. It is seen as a success for women's rights as it widens the definition of rape and sexual assault and also widens the scope of laws to prosecute such cases.

Sweden updated its rape legislation in 2018 when it changed the definition of rape to include all non-consensual acts of sex. According to a report in Reuters, rape conviction rates in Sweden have gone up by 75 percent in the past two years since the strengthening of the laws, encouraging other countries to take up similar amendments to the legal understanding of what constitutes as rape.

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