Tougher rape penalties passed by parliament

Over 35 changes were made to laws for sentencing rapists yesterday that abolish lighter sentences for rape within marriages

Men who rape their wives will be sentenced more severely and any form of sexual intercourse with a child under age 12 will be considered rape, according to legislation passed by parliament yesterday.

The rape of defenceless individuals, such as victims who were asleep or heavily intoxicated, will also be sentenced as harshly as rape in which the victim is coerced. Currently, the maximum sentences for such crimes are four and eight years, respectively.

Amnesty International has lobbied the government to change the laws, arguing that sentences should not depend on the mental or physical condition of the victim.

“All victims of rape will now be offered equal protection regardless of whether they had the opportunity to defend themselves or knew their assailant beforehand,” Amnesty campaign coordinator Stinne Lyager Bech said in a press release. “They have removed some old fashioned rules that reduce the sentence for rapes within marriage. We are very satisfied with this.”

Changes to the penalty for rape have been have been underway for several years and arrive after a complete re-evaluation of the laws relating to sexual crimes.

In November the final recommendations were made by the Justice Ministry’s sentencing committee and over 35 changes were ultimately agreed upon.

But while the current opposition started the evaluation and support the changes to the law when it was in power, it disagreed with the government’s decision not to have the changes debated in parliament.

As a result opposition parties Venstre, Konservative and Liberal Alliance abstained from yesterday's vote, while Dansk Folkeparti and Enhedslisten voted in favour to hand the government a majority.

The changes take effect on July 1.





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