Sweden’s statistics on sexual offences has risen since 2012. However, too few of these are reported. To change this trend, the Swedish government has approved a new law that recognizes sex without consent as rape. It comes into effect the 1st of July.
What is the new law saying?
Sexual offences include a variety of sex-related actions, rape being one of them. In the previous law, a person needed proof that the other person used force, threats or was in a vulnerable situation (under the influence of alcohol, etc).
The new law states:
“In the judgment of whether participation is voluntary, it should be taken into special consideration whether consent has been expressed in words or actions”.
The lack of consent is enough to constitute a crime and passivity is no longer a sign of agreeing to have sex. Therefore, a person has to express with words or actions that he or she agrees to have sex.
“If a person wants to engage in sexual activities with someone who remains inactive or gives ambiguous signals, he or she will therefore have to find out if the other person is willing.”
The new law also introduces two new offences: negligent rape and negligent sexual abuse. Both carrying a maximum prison term of four years.
A law to change attitudes
The Swedish government wants to change attitudes on sexual consent in Sweden. With this new law, the government draws a line between what is acceptable and what is not in our society.
To change these attitudes, means acknowledging the limits of sexual encounters, to make ourselves responsible for our own actions. Be aware of other people’s feelings and try to understand them. Any expression of doubt must be taken as a “no”.
Sweden became the 10th country in Western Europe to recognize non-consensual sex as rape. UK, Ireland, Belgium or Germany are other countries where sex without consent is constitute a crime.
The Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority will run sexual offences education campaigns for young people. Adults that interact with them will also be informed.
You can read more about this new law here.
If you think you are a victim of a sexual offence, you can ask for help at the Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority