Slovenia finally criminalizes sex without consent—the Philippines should, too

It’s about time we redefined rape

preen slovenia rape law consent

Redefining rape has been a fight fraught with pain—with the responsibility of legitimizing cases of sexual violence still on the shoulders of survivors. On June 7, Slovenia joined the list of countries that have taken steps toward changing this by passing a new law that defines rape as sex without consent. 

Proposed by non-governmental organization Inštitut 8. Marec (8th of March Institute), the “only yes means yes” rape law amends Slovenia’s criminal code so that conditions of rape will no longer require coercion, the use or threat of force, or inability to defend oneself.

“This is a historic victory for women in Slovenia and an important step along the road to changing culture, attitudes and behavior,” said Amnesty International’s Europe director Nils Muižnieks about the move. “Shockingly, Slovenia is only the 13th country in Europe to recognize the simple fact that sex without consent is rape, although more countries are changing their legal definitions of rape.”

The other countries that have adopted similar laws are the U.K., Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Sweden, and Germany—with Spain and the Netherlands in talks of following their lead. 

“As a society we have matured so much that we are ready to protect sexual integrity in a broader sense,” said Justice Ministry State Secretary Matic Zupan. “The legal system will no longer wonder whether enough force was used in a case, but the use of force will be an aggravating circumstance.”

In the Philippines, several groups have been pushing for the amendment of the Anti-Rape Law of 1997. Among them are the Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Inc. (WLB) and Philippine Commission on Women. Back in November, WLB conducted a consultation on its proposed changes such as “consent as a central element of rape, including increasing the age of statutory rape.” 

Currently, the law defines rape as “carnal knowledge” through force, threat, or intimidation; when the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; or by means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority.

This is clearly not enough. As Amnesty International explains, “The reality is that many women and girls who experience sexual violence do not fight back but freeze, flee or befriend. We must stop insisting that the victim prove that she resisted physically. Where she cannot or does not want to fight back the perpetrator may walk free while she is left stigmatized.”

Last December, the House of Representatives approved the third and final reading of House Bill No. 7836 which seeks to raise the age of sexual consent to 16. The move follows alarmingly high reports of violence against women during quarantine.

Hopefully, the Philippine government will show an even stronger commitment to protecting victims of sexual violence by also criminalizing sex without consent. It’s high time to make the amendment.

 

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash 

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