Denmark will define sex without consent as rape under law change

Denmark will define sex without consent as rape under law change: Victims previously had to show their attacker had used violence

  • Denmark becomes 12th country in EU to adopt definition of sex without consent 
  • United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden among those to apply law in this way
  • Similar change in Sweden in 2018 resulted in 75% increase in rape convictions 

Denmark has redefined rape as sex without consent instead of requiring victims to prove their attacker used violence.

Most countries in the European Union lack this significant consent definition which is also used in the United Kingdom.

Justice minister Nick Haekkerup said: ‘Now it will be clear, that if both parties do not consent to sex, then it’s rape.’

A similar law introduced in neighbouring Sweden in 2018 resulted in a 75 percent increase in rape convictions.

Denmark has redefined rape as sex without consent instead of victims having to prove their attacker used violence (stock image)

Denmark is second only to Sweden on the gender equality index, drawn up by the European Union.

But Denmark is accused by Amnesty International of having a ‘rape culture’ which is ‘pervasive.’

Around 11,400 women a year are raped or subjected to attempted rape in Denmark, according to the justice ministry’s figures.

Amnesty said Denmark had become the 12th country in Europe to recognise non-consensual sex as rape. 

According to the European Union, one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence. 

Greece changed its rape definition in 2019, and Spain and the Netherlands have also announced plans to amend theirs to bring in a consent definition.  

‘This is a great day for women in Denmark as it consigns outdated and dangerous rape laws to the dustbin of history and helps to end pervasive stigma and endemic impunity for this crime,’ the campaign group’s Women’s Rights Researcher, Anna Blus, said.

‘Since culture is downstream from law, this is a vital first step towards change. The next task is to start creating a culture where everyone accepts that sex is based on consent and where professionals in the legal system have a high awareness of harmful gender stereotypes and rape myths.

‘The new law falls short on being crystal clear in its commentary that passivity cannot be taken to mean consent but despite this weakness, it is nevertheless a huge step for Denmark.

‘This historic day did not come about by chance. It is the result of years of campaigning by survivors who, by telling their painful stories, have helped to ensure that other women do not have to go through what they endured.

‘Incredibly, Denmark has become only the 12th country in Europe to recognise sex without consent as rape, although momentum for change is building in other countries to amend their laws.’

The Danish law will take effect on January 1.

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