Sweden Plans Change in Law to Require Explicit Consent Before Sexual Contact

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Date: December 21, 2017

Sweden is moving closer to making changes to its rape laws that would require people to get explicit consent before sexual contact.

The deputy prime minister, Isabella Lövin, said the recent #metoo anti-harassment campaign had “shown that there is a need” for the new legislation, which was expected to be approved on Thursday in parliament.

Under current Swedish law someone can be prosecuted for rape only if it has been proved that they used threats or violence. Under the proposal, rape could be proved if the accuser hadn’t given their explicit verbal agreement or clearly demonstrate their desire to engage in sexual activity.

The prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said his coalition had been preparing the “historic reform” since taking power in 2014.

In Sweden, the prosecution must present evidence to the court proving beyond reasonable doubt that the accused has committed the crime. Following the changes to the law, the prosecution will have to present evidence demonstrating that the sexual act was not consensual.

Addressing victims, Löfven said: “Society is standing by your side.”

If the bill is approved, it would go into effect on 1 July.

The proposal is part of a series of initiatives being put forward. Others would make it illegal for Swedes to hire prostitutes abroad, and increase sentences for offenders. Buying sex in Sweden is already illegal.

Critics say the proposal wouldn’t result in more convictions.

This article was amended on 21 December 2017. The Associated Press issued the following statement: “The Associated Press reported erroneously, based on comments from deputy prime minister Isabella Lövin, what the law would do. The law would require people to get explicit consent before sexual contact, but it would not shift the burden of proof from the victim to the alleged attacker.”

Read ‘The Guardian’ (Source) article here.

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