‘Make accused rapists prove consent’: experts

Two legal experts want to see changes to Sweden sex crimes laws to require a man accused of rape to prove he had the consent of the woman with whom he had sex.

In recent years, the number of reported rapes in Sweden has been steadily increasing, but a similar rise in rape convictions hasn’t been forthcoming.

Eva Diesen, a lawyer and researcher, and Christian Diesen, a professor of criminal law at Stockholm University, have followed up on around 1,200 rape reports and presented their results in a report due this week entitled Övergrepp mot kvinnor och barn (‘Attacks against women and children’).

Since 1965, when Sweden first enacted a sex crimes law, roughly 100 to 200 rapists have been convicted every year.

However, the number of rapes reported annually has increased from around 300 to more than 5,000.

Many of the reports are written off because they boil down to he-said-she-said disputes, writes the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Diesen is convinced that it’s not only the number of reported rapes, but also the number of crimes, which is increasing.

The victims are also getting younger, with the median age of date-rape victims sinking from 27- to 22-years-old during the last decade.

Rape should be classified as a violation of personal integrity, rather than a violent crime, according to the researchers.

The way the law looks now, women are sexually available until they say no or put up resistance.

A law based instead on a requirement for consent, would those not require evidence of violence or threats.

Rather, a man would have to show that he had done something to ensure he had the woman’s consent, according to Diesen.

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