Saturday 28 November 2020

All non-consensual sex to be classed as rape in new law

Statue of justice.

Photo: Depositphotos.com

All forms of non-consensual sex will now be classed as rape following criticism of draft legislation introducing ‘sex against a person’s will’ as a different offence and carrying a lighter penalty.

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus initially included the offence because in current Dutch law, rape is only rape if force or violence can be proven in court.

This is not always possible because victims freeze, are too frightened to resist, or are drugged. While punishing those who are now walking away, Grapperhaus’s law would regard cases of this type as the separate offence of ‘sex against a person’s will’, carrying a penalty of six years in jail instead of 12.

Following criticism from Amnesty International and MPs across the board, Grapperhaus will now scrap the requirement of proof of violence or force, which will still count as an aggravating circumstance and result in a higher penalty.

In its place will come a ‘lower limit’. A person who goes ahead with sexual acts while knowing these are not welcome based on (non) verbal signs will be ‘guilty of rape’.

‘This limit will lower the threshold for making non-consensual sex punishable by law and widen the number of situations in which victims can report rape. Additional proof, such as evidence left on a person’s body, images or Whatsapp messages can support a victim’s claim,’ Grapperhaus told MPs.

The adapted draft legislation is expected to be presented for consultation in early December.

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