Euro­pean coun­tries’ ‘out­dated’ rape laws

The Witness - - FEATURES -

EURO­PEAN coun­tries must over­haul their “out­dated” laws that let rapists off the hook and per­pet­u­ate a cul­ture of vic­tim-blam­ing, rights groups have said. Only eight out of 31 coun­tries sur­veyed by Amnesty In­ter­na­tional de­fine rape as sex with­out con­sent, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished on the eve of In­ter­na­tional Day for the Elim­i­na­tion of Vi­o­lence against Women.

The rest have le­gal def­i­ni­tions of rape based on force, threat of force, co­er­cion or the vic­tim’s in­abil­ity to de­fend him­self or her­self.

“Time and again, sur­veys show that many peo­ple still be­lieve it’s not rape when the vic­tim is drunk, wear­ing re­veal­ing clothes or not phys­i­cally fight­ing back,” said lead re­searcher Anna Blus. “Sex with­out con­sent is rape, full stop. Un­til gov­ern­ments bring their leg­is­la­tion in line with this sim­ple fact, the per­pe­tra­tors of rape will con­tinue to get away with their crimes.”

The sur­vey cov­ered the 28 EU coun­tries, plus Ice­land, Nor­way and Switzer­land. Re­search by the Euro­pean Union Agency for Fun­da­men­tal Rights sug­gests one in 20 women has been raped. But rights groups say rape re­mains hugely un­der­re­ported in Europe, de­spite move­ments like #MeToo which have spurred women to speak out about sex­ual vi­o­lence.

The coun­tries that de­fine rape as sex with­out con­sent are Bel­gium, Cyprus, Ger­many, Ice­land, Ire­land, Lux­em­bourg, Swe­den and the UK. Blus said rape sur­vivors across Europe are of­ten failed by “out­dated and harm­ful” laws. Some coun­tries, in­clud­ing Croa­tia and Spain, cat­e­gorise sex with­out con­sent as a lesser of­fence, send­ing a mes­sage that “real rape” must in­volve phys­i­cal vi­o­lence, she said.

Spain is plan­ning a new rape law fol­low­ing pub­lic out­cry this year when five men were cleared of gang-rap­ing a teenager dur­ing the bull-run­ning fes­ti­val in Pam­plona. The men were con­victed of a lesser crime, partly be­cause the vic­tim re­mained silent dur­ing the at­tack. “Rape is a crime of vi­o­lence, and you shouldn’t have to prove ad­di­tional vi­o­lence to show rape,” said Jac­qui Hunt, Europe di­rec­tor of Equal­ity Now. — Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.