‘Sex Without Consent is Rape’: Says the Newly Established Sweden Law
Sweden government says sex without consent is rape. (Photo Credits: fa/Twitter)

Sweden has passed a new law saying that ‘sex without consent is rape’. The new law due to come into effect on July 1, says that even when there are no threats or force involved, a person must give clear consent, verbal or physical. This is the straightforward language of a new Swedish law set to change the way rape and other sexual crimes are prosecuted in the country.

On Wednesday, the Swedish Parliament passed the law requiring explicit consent from participants before they engage in a sexual act. Prosecutors will no longer need to prove violence or that the victim was in a vulnerable situation to establish rape. The law says the lack of consent is enough to constitute a crime. It is ‘based on the obvious: sex must be voluntary’, said the government when the legislation was proposed. The statement also states that passivity is not a sign of agreeing to sex.

“If a person wants to engage in sexual activities with someone who remains inactive or given ambiguous signals, he or she will therefore have to find out if the other person is willing,” the law states. The law also introduces two new offences, negligent rape and negligent sexual abuse, carrying a maximum prison term of four years. “The negligence aspect focuses on the fact that one of the parties did not participate voluntarily, “the government said, adding that it would be possible to convict more people of sexual abuse.

Officials numbers show that the incidence of sexual offences is on the rise. The term ‘sexual offences’ refers to a range of all sex-related crimes in Sweden, with rape being one of them. Other crimes such as paying for sex, sexual harassment, indecent exposure, sexual exploitation, molestation and trafficking are included in the numbers as well. Women’s rights activists said they hoped other European countries would follow Sweden and approve similar legislations. Most countries in Europe still define rape as a sexual act carried out with the use of violence or threat.

Some critics like the Swedish Bar Association said that the law will not increase the number of rape convictions. Secretary General Anne Ramborg told the New York Times, “The new legislation has not lowered the burden of proof, since the prosecutor has to prove that a crime was committed, and they have to prove intent.” With the new legislation, approved in parliament by 257 votes against 38, Sweden joins other European countries like United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Cyrus, where sex without consent is considered rape.