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The Swedish Parliament passed a law that determines that sex without consent is a violation even though there have been no threats or use of force, one held by human rights NGOs.
“It’s not no, it’s our law,” say protesters in Cologne, Germany.
The law was approved by 257 votes in favor and 38 against and modifies the previous legislation that indicated that it was necessary to prove that the accused had used force, made threats or that the victim was in a vulnerable situation -as, for example, inebriated – to be able to obtain a conviction for rape.
This new regulation enters into force on July 1 and determines that a person must consent to sexual activity with words or body language.
“The vote marks a great victory for women’s rights activists in Sweden, who have been fighting tirelessly for this change for more than a decade,” said Anna Blus, AI researcher in a statement. “Surprisingly, this change in the law will make Sweden just the tenth country in Europe to recognize that sex without consent is a violation.” Most European countries continue to define rape based on physical violence, threat or coercion, “he added.
The case of the “herd”
A little less than a month ago, the sentence of a Spanish court, which condemned for abuse and not for sexual assault the five accused of raping a 18-year-old girl in a group during the Sanfermines festivities in 2016 – known as “La Manada “-, provoked massive protests in Spain.
The Spanish Penal Code defines abuse as an attack “against the freedom or sexual indemnity of another person” using “manifest superiority”. Rape, a crime with greater penalties, requires the existence of “intimidation and violence”, something that the judges discarded in the sentence.
“Victory of feminism”
For his part, Tomas Tobe, spokesman on Justice issues of conservative opponents in Sweden, said his party had voted in favor of the law despite some doubts. One concern is that the law “puts too much focus” on the victim, he said, when defining whether people clearly communicated whether or not they wanted to have sex.
Anyway, Tobe told Swedish radio, the new law could help change attitudes. “This is a great feminist victory,” said Annika Hirvonen Falk, of Los Verdes, partners of Sweden’s center-left coalition government.
The Swedish government introduced the law despite the fact that the legislative advisory council, which is studying the drafts of the law, had indicated that existing legislation was sufficient.