STA, 25 February - The government adopted last night changes to the penal code redefining rape. Under the changes, rape will no longer have to involve force, as the changes incriminate interference in sexual integrity without consent.
Victims will no longer have to prove that they had put up a fight. Under the changes, those involved must express consent to the sexual act either implicitly or verbally, the government said after the session in a press release.
Consent is defined as the consequence of free will, which means it cannot be subjected to any sort of duress. The changes also include the condition that a person must be capable of making such a decision. This excludes victims under the age of 15, who are presumed not to be in condition to consent to sex.
The Ministry of Justice started thinking about changes following several rulings that followed the rule that a sexual act can only be considered rape if the perpetrator used force.
Meanwhile, the March 8 Institute is collecting voter signatures to push a similar redefinition, campaigning under the slogan Only Yes Means Yes.
The feminist NGO was critical of the government's latest step today because, it believes, the authorities bulldozed the efforts of numerous volunteers and voters by pushing the amendments even though they knew that the NGO had collected the required 5,000 signatures in less than a week.
The March 8 Institute was planning to table its proposal today, but the government has beaten it to it.
Even though the government's move makes it seem as if all efforts had been in vain, that is not true since a sea change has been witnessed in societal attitudes towards rape and sexual abuse, the organisation said, highlighting that it planned to back any proposal that would enforce the affirmative model of consent.
The opposition Marjan Šarec Party (LMŠ), SocDems (SD), Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the Left also criticised the government today for what they see as an unfair step in relation to civil society and self-promotion, noting that the adoption of changes had not been on the agenda of yesterday's government session. The parties submitted the NGO's proposal today since they had not been aware of the government's move yet.
The Justice Ministry told the STA that the yes-means-yes model had been adopted in the government-sponsored changes despite different stances on the issue in the past. Hence, during the parliamentary procedure both proposals could be merged, the opposition confirmed.