Sweden: explicit consent before sexual contact

Sweden is planning to making changes to its rape laws requesting people’s 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 a new legislation of this kind, which was expected to be approved on Thursday in Parliament.

Current Swedish law rules that someone can be prosecuted for rape only in case of proved use of threats or violence. Under the proposal, instead, there could be rape even 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. Löfven said to victims: “Society is standing by your side.”

Many other initiatives are being put forward by the current Government, as those which aim to make it illegal for Swedes to hire prostitutes abroad, or increase sentences for offenders.

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

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