Denmark Strengthens Rape Laws, Criminalizing Sex Without Explicit Consent

"Now it will be clear, that if both parties do not consent to sex, then it’s rape."

denmark flag
Denmark has stepped up its rape laws.
Kristian Buus/In Pictures via Getty Images

A new law passed Thursday will strengthen rape laws in Denmark, outlawing sex without explicit consent, Reuters reported.

The new law, which will take effect January 1, also widens the circumstances under which rape can be considered to have occurred. Previously, prosecutors had to show evidence the accused rapist had used violence or attacked a victim who was unable to resist in order to secure a rape conviction.

“Now it will be clear, that if both parties do not consent to sex, then it’s rape,” the justice minister, Nick Haekkerup, said in a statement.

According to Amnesty International, the new law makes Denmark the 12th country in Europe to recognize non-consensual sex as rape, in addition to Belgium, Britain, Germany, Greece and Ireland, among others. A similar law was introduced in Sweden in 2018, stating simply, “Sex must be voluntary — if it is not, then it is illegal.” The law resulted in a 75 percent increase in rape convictions in Sweden between 2017 and 2019, according to government statistics.

In Denmark, about 11,400 women are victims of rape or attempted rape every year, according to the ministry’s data.

“This is a great day for women in Denmark as it consigns outdated and dangerous rape laws to the dustbin of history and helps to end pervasive stigma and endemic impunity for this crime,” said Anna Blus, a women’s rights researcher at Amnesty International.

“Rape is violence in itself. You shouldn’t need other types of violence to prove it.” Kirstine Holst, a freelance journalist who was sexually assaulted in 2017, told The New York Times. “The new consent-based rape law doesn’t expect the woman to fight with her rapist anymore. It expects the man to not rape.”

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