STA, 22 July 2020 - After a year and a half of calls for redefining rape in the penal code, the Justice Ministry said on Wednesday that legislative changes had been drafted. Their aim is to embed the consent standard in criminal law.
The changes would make every non-consensual sexual act a punishable offence, including those during which the victim did not physically resist the perpetrator or say no out of fear or shock or any other circumstances preventing such action
The amendments thus enable a transition from the coercion-based definition of rape to the consent-based standard, including the affirmative consent and veto models. Coercion or force would become aggravating circumstances.
The ministry's statement came in response to claims by a feminist NGO, March 8 Institute, that in a year and a half no progress had been made to amend the definition of rape in the penal code.
The ministry said this was not the case as it had held meetings with a number of NGOs, the most recent one in June, with all the participants agreeing that the consent-based standard had to be implemented.
But in response, 8 March Institute pointed out that the participating NGOs had insisted to scrap the veto model and enforce only the affirmative consent standard, known as "only yes means yes", which the ministry did not green-light.
In January 2019, March 8 Institute launched a petition, signed by more than 6,000 people, demanding a redefinition of rape. The effort came as a response to a court case in which a man was acquitted of rape because the victim was asleep and unable to resist.
The public consultation period for the amendments runs until 25 August.