Cabinet pushing debate on stricter rape, sex assault laws

Following an Amnesty International campaign to more Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said he would continue to push for more debate about current rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse laws in the Netherlands. The issue received more publicity last month after research conducted on behalf of Amnesty International determined that a fifth of young Dutch men think the lack of a clear "no" is the same as receiving consent for sex, and a fifth of Dutch women have experienced unwanted penetration fo their body.

Current Dutch law only considers an act to be rape if violence or coercion is proven, and not when a victim is unable to resist due to being inebriated or paralyzed by fear. The minister submitted a new draft bill in May which tightens up the law, and the government is accepting advice from the public on the matter through Aug. 16.

The Justice and Security Ministry on Friday acknowledged that sexually transgressive behavior is an important and pressing social issue affecting many people, and has profound consequences for victims. Grapperhaus wrote to Amnesty International in response to their #LetsTalkAboutYes campaign and said he agreed with them and the 5,600 people who wrote in support of criminalizing all forms of involuntary sex.

"I very much appreciate that Amnesty is now engaged in this way in the modernization of the moral law, because an important and far-reaching issue such as sexual transgression requires constant attention. This strengthens my motivation to better protect victims of sexual violence," Grapperhaus said.

"Because sexual cross-border behavior is an issue that affects everyone in the Netherlands, I think it's important to hear as many people’s views as possible on the new legislation at an early stage. Also, because criminal law reflects a large extent the social norms in our society, it is important that people react. The standard is that sexual contact should be voluntary and equivalent. The bill must do justice to the social reality'," the minister said on Friday.

Debate on the new legislation is expected to begin in September.

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