Amnesty International decries Europe′s ′outdated′ rape laws | News | DW | 24.11.2018
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Amnesty International decries Europe's 'outdated' rape laws

Germany is one of only eight European countries that define rape as sex without consent. Amnesty International says governments must overhaul "outdated" laws that let perpetrators off the hook.

The vast majority of European countries still have laws that fail to define rape as sex without consent, rights group Amnesty International has said.

Twenty-three of 31 countries analyzed had laws that only defined rape as sex that involves violence, threat or some other type of coercion.

Eight countries — Germany, Ireland, Britain, Belgium, Cyprus, Iceland, Luxembourg and Sweden — had consent-based laws.

Helping perpetrators

"Sex without consent is rape, full stop," said Anna Blus, Amnesty's women's rights expert, on Saturday. "Until governments bring their legislation in line with this simple fact, the perpetrators of rape will continue to get away with their crimes."

Watch video 05:46

An Italian village looks away

Germany reformed its sex crime laws in 2016 to redefine rape as non-consensual sex rather than sex involving physical resistance.

Some countries define sex without consent as a lesser offense than sex that involves violence, while others define it in terms of "honor" or "morality." Maltese law recognizes sex crimes under a chapter of "crimes affecting the good order of families."

Some 9 million women have been raped since the age of 15, around one in 20 women, according to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Read more: Germany redefines rape: A survey of international laws

Watch video 04:27

Hungary: Police accused of victim bashing

Calling for change

Amnesty's analysis coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25. It also comes after protests in Ireland against a lawyer who successfully defended a client accused of rape by presenting the accuser's thong as legal evidence, suggesting she had agreed to sex by wearing the underwear.

Women in Denmark are expected to demonstrate on Sunday in support of introducing a consent-based definition of rape into Danish law.

"Rape is a grave human rights violation that should always be recognized as a serious crime," said Blus.

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