Fifth of young men find lack of "no" mitigating circumstances for rape

A fifth of young men in the Netherlands think that the lack of a clear "no" is mitigating circumstances for rape, according to a study by I&O Research among over 2 thousand Dutch on behalf of Amnesty International. Over 84 percent of the Dutch population think there are no mitigating circumstances for rape.

This survey was prompted by a legislative proposal made by Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security. The current law considers it rape only if violence or coercion can by proven. But as it is sometimes not possible for the victim to resist, because they frozen in fear or drugged, the Minister wants to make "sex against the will" a new punishable offense in Dutch law. 

Three quarters of respondents said that sex without mutual consent, even without force or violence, is also rape. A fifth of Dutch women have experienced unwanted penetration fo their body. Nearly all respondents said that if the victim is frozen in fear or intoxicated, sex is rape. 

11 percent of men said that it should be considered mitigating circumstances if the victim does not explicitly speak out against sex. Among men between the ages of 16 and 35, 20 percent think that. 

Amnesty International thinks that sex against the will should not be a separate criminal offense and calls on Grapperhaus to reconsider his bill. "Sex against the will must always be treated as rape. There must be no new offense. The rape offense must be adjusted," Martine Goeman of the organization said to NOS.

Something must also be done so that talking about rape becomes easier for victims, Goeman said. "Half of women who have experienced this have not spoken about it to anyone," she said. This is largely due to people's reactions. "Unbelief, questions about why someone didn't resist. It actually damages them again."