Dangerous rape laws in Europe must be updated: Amnesty

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London, Nov 24 (IANS) Rape laws across Europe were “dangerous and outdated”, according to a new Amnesty International report.

The report released on Friday night found that out of 31 European countries, only eight — Ireland, the UK, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg and Sweden — have laws that define sex without consent as rape, CNN reported.

The overwhelming majority of countries in Europe recognise rape only when physical violence, threat or coercion is involved, Amnesty said, adding that some countries classify sex without consent as a separate, less serious offence.

In Croatia, convicted rapists can be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years, while sex without consent convictions bring a maximum of five years.

In Malta, sexual offence legislation is framed in the context of “crimes affecting the good order of families”, the report said.

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According to a 2016 European Commission Special Eurobarometer Report on Gender-based Violence, nearly a third of all respondents (27 per cent) had said that there were situations in which sex without consent was justified, including if the person was drunk or on drugs (12 per cent), has voluntarily gone home with someone (11 per cent), has worn revealing clothes (10 per cent), hasn’t fought back or hasn’t said “no” clearly (10 per cent).

“Sex without consent is rape, full stop,” Anna Blus, Amnesty International’s researcher on Western Europe and women’s rights, was quoted as saying in the report.

“Until governments bring their legislations in line with this simple fact, the perpetrators of rape will continue to get away with their crimes.”

In the European Union alone, an estimated 9 million women over the age of 15 — at least one in 20 women — have been raped, according to a 2014 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights data analysed by Amnesty International.

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Many countries still struggle to secure convictions, even with consent-based rape legislation, according to Friday’s report.

In the UK, an estimated one in seven women has reported experiencing some form of sexual violence, placing it in the joint top five countries for the most amount of sexual assaults recorded.

But despite this, the number of rape convictions dropped 23 per cent in 2017-18, compared with the previous year, according to data from the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service.

–IANS

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