More reports of rape, but fewer charges pressed
The number of rape cases reported to the police increased sharply over the past years, but the percentage of reports that led to charges being pressed decreased. The number of trials and convictions remained about the same between 2013 and 2019, according to figures analyzed by investigative journalism platform Investico for Trouw and De Groene Amsterdammer.
In 2013, the first year that the newly formed National Police kept track of these figures, a total of 1,245 rapes were reported. In 2019, that increased to 2 thousand. The percentage of reports that resulted in charges being pressed decreased from 49 percent in 2015 to 38 percent last year.
A report does not automatically lead to charges being pressed. The victim first has a conversation with a vice detective about the details of the case and the chance of the perpetrator being caught and convicted. The Justice and Security Inspectorate recently raised concerns about so-called "unconscious discouragement" in these conversations - the victim may be discouraged from pressing charges while the vice cop discusses the chances of a conviction, without the vice cop intending this, for example.
If the victim does decide to press charges, the case often strands at the Public Prosecution Service (OM). Just under 60 percent of cases are dropped here, often due to lack of evidence, according to the newspapers. The number of cases that ended up being prosecuted has been hovering between 130 and 180 for years. About 20 percent of charges pressed end in a conviction.
According to the Center for Sexual Violence, the increase in the number of reports of rape can be attributed to changes in sexual morality. The #MeToo movement, for example, lowered the threshold for victims to discuss what happened to them.
Earlier this year Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security announced a bill with which he wants to better protect victims of unwanted sexual behavior. He is making 'sex against the will' a separate offense, in which the victim doesn't have to prove that force was used, only that they didn't want it. The maximum penalty is about half as high as for rape.
Amnesty International was critical of this bill. Martine Goeman of the organization is pleased that Grapperhaus "sees the problem" and wants to change the law. 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."