Netherlands to update law to make adult sexting to minors punishable

Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security is updating the law on sexually transgressing behavior so that more forms of sex crimes, both online and offline, are covered by it. One of the main changes is that an adult sending sexual explicit images to a child will soon explicitly be a punishable offense, the Minister said in a statement. 

Updating the law also means taking into account existing views on normal sexual behavior among teenagers, the Minister said. Sexting among teens currently falls under child pornography. The Minister will change this so that "the exchange of self-made sexual images" among teens aged 12 to 16 is "not punishable in an equal situation between peers and if the images are exclusively intended for private use".

An adult sending sexting a minor will be explicitly punishable and will carry a maximum prison sentence of two years.

The Minister is also extending the criminalization of sex against the will. It will soon be punishable to have sex with someone if you know or should know based on the facts and circumstances that the sexual acts are against their will. "A 'no' is a 'no'. But no 'no' does not automatically mean 'yes'. If the other person does not speak out clearly, you must first check whether they want sexual contact. if you don't, you risk punishment." 

The criminalization of rape is also being extended, so that a male victim being forced or blackmailed into penetrating the offender's body or that of a third party is considered rape, instead of the current sexual assault. "In this way equal justice can be done for male and female victims of sexual violence." 

Sexual harassment, both online and in person, will also be made a criminal offense. And a number of maximum penalties are increasing. Sexual acts with a child under the age of 12 will soon carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years. If the child is between the ages of 12 and 16, the maximum prison sentence will soon be 12 years. Sex with an otherwise vulnerable or defenseless person, for example someone who is under heavy influence of drugs or alcohol, will soon carry a maximum prison sentence of 12 years.

"Sexual transgressive behavior is too common and often has long-lasting and pervasive consequences," Minister Grapperhaus said. "People feel unsafe, hurt or humiliated. Sex must be voluntary and equal; that is the social norm."