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Denmark's Liberal party not in favour of change of practice in rape cases

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Denmark's Liberal party not in favour of change of practice in rape cases
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
13:51 CEST+02:00
The Liberal Party, the senior partner in Denmark's coalition government, says the burden of proof should remain with the victim in rape trials.

The party's legal affairs spokesperson Preben Bang Henriksen spoke about the issue in light of a landmark parliamentary vote in neighbouring Sweden.

Sweden's law change will mean that, from July 1st, having sex with someone without their explicit consent will be illegal.

This means that unless the sex is fully voluntary, it will be considered a criminal act, whether or not violence or threats were used.

The new Swedish law will treat consent as possible either through words or clear actions.

READ ALSO: Sweden votes through new sexual consent law

But a similar approach will not be taken in Denmark, Henriksen said.

“On first glance, this looks to me as though the burden of proof has been turned around. [Suspects] will have to prove their own innocence. Possibly by showing written contracts,” the Liberal MP told Ritzau.

“It is currently difficult to prove rape. That is unsatisfactory for the women subjected to it. But the rule of law means that it is up to prosecutors to prove a criminal act has occurred,” he said.

Helle Jacobsen, a programme leader for gender issues with Amnesty International Denmark, said that the Swedish decision strengthens the rule of law and that Denmark should follow its neighbour's example.

“The law emphasises that all individuals have the right to decide what to do with their own bodies and sexualities. That means it's up to both people to ensure sex is consensual. When sex is not consensual, it is rape,” she said.

Danish law only allows for rape convictions if force, violence or threatening behaviour are proven.

The Scandinavian country should reconsider the way in which its legal system deals with rape, said Josephine Fock, legal issues spokesperson with the opposition Alternative party.

“There are very few reports [of rape] to police in Denmark. So there are also very few convictions. And we know that there are a large amount of unregistered incidents. There are more rapes than reports of rape,” Fock said.

“What they have done in Sweden is very interesting. We would like to see whether Denmark might do something similar,” she added.

READ ALSO: 'Hundreds' of rapes 'hidden' by Danish police

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