03:10 GMT24 January 2021
Listen Live
    Europe
    Get short URL
    by
    10813
    Subscribe

    Neighbouring Sweden, where a similar law was introduced in 2018 and hailed as a milestone for feminism and equality, saw a rise in convictions in rape cases. However, it was not without controversy, as many feared a spike in wrongful charges.

    The Danish parliament has unanimously passed a new sex law based on consent. The law proclaims all sex without explicit consent to be rape.

    Social Liberal Party spokesman Kristian Hegaard called this day "historic".

    "In future, intercourse will be something that requires the consent of both parties or more for that matter. That everyone should be part of it. I know it sounds like a matter of course, but so far the law has not been put together to reflect this", he said, as quoted by the newspaper Berlingske.

    According to Kristian Hegaard, the law in its previous form challenged rape victims' legal security, which now is being rectified.

    "In the past, there had to be an element of coercion, violence, or threats in order for there to be a rape. Now we're shifting the focus to having sex only if both parties agree", Socialist People's Party legal spokeswoman Karina Lorentzen explained about the new law that enters into force on 1 January 2021.

    At Amnesty International Denmark, senior adviser Helle Jacobsen called the Consent Act "a step forward similar to when free abortion was introduced in 1973".

    "It's a big day. The Consent Act is a huge step forward for women's rights and the right to decide over their own bodies", Jacobsen said.

    Danish Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup of the Social Democrat Party pledged a number of further initiatives will be launched to prevent rape and improve victims' conditions in the judicial system.

    For instance, DKK 20 million ($3.3 million) has been set aside annually in 2021 and 2022 for a new Finance Act to strengthen the development of legal assistance.

    Denmark is in effect following in its neighbour Sweden's footsteps. Sweden introduced a "consent clause" in 2018, allowing for people to be charged with "negligent rape" or "careless rape" in the event of a failure to obtain specific consent. Finland has also chosen this route.

    While the Swedish Crime Prevention Council (Brå) has reported an increase in rape convictions, ascribed to the "consent clause", it also sparked controversy as numerous legal professionals warned it would complicate legal proceedings and jeopardise justice by risking innocent people being thrown into jail.

    A similar sentiment was expressed by the Danish Judges' Association, who warned that the burden of proof shall not be lifted.

    "The Judges' Association finds reason to emphasise that regardless of whether a voluntary or consent criterion is introduced, in practice it could continue to give rise to significant evidentiary issues in proving the perpetrator's intent", it warned.

    According to figures from the Danish Crime Prevention Council, the police received 1,662 reports of rape or attempted rape in 2019.

    Related:

    Denmark to Rank Immigrants From Muslim Countries Separately in Crime Statistics
    Tags:
    consent, law, rape, Scandinavia, Denmark
    Community standardsDiscussion