New bill does not fix shortcomings in NL's rape law: Amnesty International
Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus' new bill to make "sex against the will" a new punishable offense does little to nothing to address the shortcomings Dutch legislation against rape when it comes to protecting victims, Amnesty International Netherlands said in a recommendation to the Ministry of Justice and Security on Monday, NRC reports.
Amnesty International Netherlands conducted a case law analysis of 72 rape cases between 2017 and earlier this year. According to the aid organization, this analysis showed that evidence of coercion, which is crucial in the current rape offense, is an injustice to victims. Judges must assess whether the victim resisted, or could not reasonably resist due to coercion or violence. An analysis of the rulings showed that this is often difficult to prove. As a result, there are cases in which the victim clearly did not have to want sex, but the judge cannot rule it a rape.
Grapperhaus wants to fix that by making "sex against the will" a separate punishable offense, for cases in which victims were unable to resist because they froze, were under the influence of drugs or alcohol., or were asleep. The maximum penalties for this crime are set to be about half as high as for rape.
Martine Goeman of Amnesty International is pleased that Grapperhaus "sees the problem" and wants to change the law, he said to NRC. But added: "Introducing 'sex against the will' is not the right solution." According to the organization, this bill creates a "dichotomy"and a "hierarchy" of crimes. "Moreover, the focus remains on the victim's behavior," Goeman said. "While it is about what the perpetrator did:he wanted sex, even without consent. That should always be interpreted as rape."
Amnesty International believes it would be better if the law focuses on consent for sex. Then sex against the will is also punished as rape. Goeman also pointed to a recent poll that showed that 76 percent of Dutch consider penetration without consent as rape.