Denmark: consent before sex

A majority in the Danish parliament has voted in favour of changing the country's sexual violence laws to make consent rather than the use of violence the basis for determining rape. Sex without explicit consent will become a punishable offence. Commentators analyse what the law can achieve.

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Der Nordschleswiger (DK) /

More security for women

Journalist Walter Turnowsky reaches out to men in Der Nordschleswiger:

“Honestly, guys, isn't it crystal clear to you when your flirting, overtures or caresses are reciprocated, and when they aren't? And isn't that still the case even after you've had a few glasses of wine or beer? And if those who are a little slower on the uptake exercise a little more caution now that the law has become stricter, it's only to be welcomed. Because as numerous studies show, most rapes are never reported to the police. If more women are encouraged to do so by this amendment, that in itself is an important achievement. And giving rape victims the feeling that they're being taken more seriously is another.”

Politiken (DK) /

Key to a new sex culture

The law has the potential to change our basic understanding of physical closeness, Politiken hopes:

“There's no need for written agreements, nevertheless it has now been made clear that people who are very drunk or otherwise impaired cannot consent to sex. So this change in the law should only be the first step on the way to changing the culture of sex. This new understanding must also be reflected in sex education classes and will hopefully lead to a healthier and more equal sexual culture. One in which no one - regardless of age, gender or marital status - can be forced to do something that he or she does not want. The success criterion for the law is not whether there will be more convictions but whether there will be significantly fewer rapes.”