Sweden has made sex without consent illegal - here's what that means

Louis Staples
Thursday 24 May 2018 13:15
news
IMAGE:(ISTOCK)

Sweden has passed a law to make sex illegal without explicit consent.

The vote comes after more than a decade of campaigning to change the law in the Scandinavian nation. 

With the passage of the law, Sweden becomes just the tenth country in Europe to recognise non-consensual sex as rape. The new legislation aligns Sweden with the UK , Belgium, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Iceland, Ireland and Germany.

Sweden’s parliament passed the law requiring explicit consent from participants before they engage in a sexual act. Under previous laws, prosecutors had to show that there had been violence, a threat of violence or the exploitation of a victim in a vulnerable state to establish rape.

While some argue that the law will be difficult to enforce, others say the legislation is more about changing the culture. Sweden’s justice minister, Morgan Johansson, said:

This is a modern legislation based on modern relationships.

It should sit in the spines of every boy and man in Sweden that this is how it is. That you have to make sure that the one that you intend to have sex with is a voluntary participant.

According to Sweden’s annual national crime survey, the number of people reporting that they had been victims of sexual crimes almost tripled from 2012, when it was 0.8 per cent of the adult population, to 2016, when it was 2.4 per cent. Only 10 per cent of those surveyed said they had told the police.

Shockingly marital rape is still legal in 33 countries across the world. These include Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lesotho, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. UK courts only ruled that husbands were not entitled to have sex with wives regardless of whether or not they offer their consent in 1992.

Sweden’s decision comes at a time when problematic attitudes towards sex are widespread in Europe. A recent Europe-wide survey on gender-based violence revealed widespread victim blaming and challenging views on consent. Nearly one-third of respondents said they believed that sex without consent is sometimes justified.

TB: New York Times

More: 18 signs we live in a rape culture

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