Parliamentary majority wants to punish mental cruelty more severely

People who subject others to degrading or abusive behaviour should be punished as much as if they had committed a physical assault

If passed, a new law would make it possible for people who subject others to psychological harassment of any kind to be given a prison sentence.

A majority in Parliament comprising the government, Dansk Folkepari and Socialdemokratiet all back the new measure put forward by the justice minister, Søren Pape Poulsen.

“It is essential we equate physical and mental cruelty. We’ve seen people living in terrible relationships in which mental cruelty has been the dominant factor and we’re going to do something about it,” Poulsen told TV2 Nyheder.

A new clause needed
In concrete terms, the law would make it possible for anyone who subjects another person attached to the household to deeply degrading, abusive or offensive acts to be sent to prison for up to three years. This might apply to a spouse, cohabitee, parent, foster parent or sibling.

The government would like to see a special clause in the criminal law statutes covering this type of thing.

Proving it could be hard
However, the association of judges, Dommerforeningen, is sounding a warning note: such a clause could be very difficult to substantiate evidence-wise.

Poulsen admits that this could be a challenge.

“It’s obviously easier to show bruises than it is psychological scars,” he said.

“But new technology opens up the possibility that the evidence could be in the form of a series of text messages of a threatening and controlling character.”