Sweden to bring in tighter rape laws to up convictions

Swedish lawmakers are to propose adding a controversial new consent clause to the country’s rape laws, as they seek to increase to the low percentage of accused rapists who are convicted.

Sweden to bring in tighter rape laws to up convictions
Mari Heidenborg, president of the Sexual Offences Committee wants to drop the Swedish term fro rape Våldtakt. Photo: Claudio Bresciani / TT
The Sexual Offences Committee tasked with overhauling the country’s rape laws is expected to recommend on October 5 that the law be changed so that anyone who has sex is responsible for first ensuring that their partner has consented, Swedish state broadcaster SVT reported on Sunday. 
The clause will bring Sweden in line with other European nations such as England and Wales, which already have a so-called sexual consent clause. 
“It’s magic, thrilling!” Ida Östensson, founder of gender equality campaign group Make Equal, told SVT. “There are so many of us have been fighting for this for three years already.” 
Put into very simple terms, while under the current law it is considered rape if the person has said no, a sexual consent clause would indicate rape if the person has not said yes.
In Sweden today, to convict an accused rapist, the prosecutor has to show that they used threats or violence, or took advantage of a person who was unable to resist, for example because they were drunk, asleep, or disabled. 
According to SVT, the proposal have the support of enough MPs to get voted into law when it comes to parliament in October. 
Thomas Bodström, the former Social Democratic Justice Minister, said he was concerned about some of the changes being proposed. 
“There is a risk that innocent people will be convicted of pure ‘krogbesökssex’ [casual sex initiated in a pub], where there is no violence or crime, but that someone regrets afterwards,” he said. 
He said he was also not convinced that the consent clause would in fact lead to more convictions. 
“The risk is that the woman will get more offensive personal questions,” he said. “Then we’d be back to the way it looked several years ago where the women were asked several difficult questions.” 
Mari Heidenborg, the president of the Committee has previously said she wants to wants to scrap the Swedish word for rape, “våldtäkt”, because it includes the word “våld” meaning “violence”, and rape is not always violent.