Today, to convict an accused rapist, Sweden prosecutors have to prove that threats or violence were used. Furthermore, a sex crime constitutes rape if the victim was taken advantage of or was unable to resist due to being drunk, drugged, asleep or disabled. Whereas the present-day laws fail to clearly define what exactly constitutes rape, under the new legislation a simple lack of consent would be enough to place the sexual offender behind bars.
The public debate about rape was fueled by last week's study by the Södersjukhuset Hospital and the Karolinska Institute, according to which nearly 70 percent of rape victims experienced some sort of "freezing response," as if becoming paralyzed. According to the study "Tonic immobility during rape," rape victims tend to become immobile and unable to resist, SVT reported.
Whereas highly lauded by many activists and members of parliament, the proposed changes have also triggered concern.
"There is a risk that innocent people will be convicted of pure casual pub sex, where no violence or crime has occurred, but rather someone regrets it afterwards," former Social Democratic Justice Minister Thomas Bodström said.
By his own admission, he is not convinced that the consent clause actually lead to more convictions.
"There is a risk that rape victims will get more offensive personal questions during interrogation," Bodström said.
In recent years, Sweden has been plagued by an astonishingly high rape rate, which happens to be the highest in Europe and overlap with the dramatic rise of asylum applications from the Muslim countries in the Middle East.
In Sweden, the surge in sexual violence has been blamed on many reasons, ranging from Swedish women's drinking habits and confusing behavior to exceptionally hot weather this year. According to psychotherapist and expert on sexual criminals Börje Svensson, Sweden was a bit unlucky with the weather this year. A colder summer text year will render sexual crimes an old memory, the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen reported earlier this year.