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Sweden passes law recognising sex without consent as rape

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Sweden passes law recognising sex without consent as rape

Sweden passes law recognising sex without consent as rape
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REUTERS/Eloy Alonso
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Sweden has passed a new law recognising sex without consent as rape, making it the eighth country in western Europe to approve such legislation.

The new law, set to come into effect on July 1, says "it is no longer necessary for the offender to use violence or threats, or to exploit the victim's particularly vulnerable situation" for rape charges to be brought forward.

“Sex must be voluntary — if it is not, then it is illegal,” the government said as it proposed the legislation.

The law stops short of making expressed consent a condition for consensual sex but stresses that passivity is not a sign of agreeing to sex.

The move means Sweden will join seven other western European countries — the UK, Belgium, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Iceland, Ireland and Germany — in defining non-consensual sex as rape.

Anna Blus, Amnesty International’s researcher on women’s rights in Europe, told Euronews the change “moves Sweden one step further towards preventing sexual violence, brings the legislation in line with human rights standards and is a victory for women’s rights movements” who have long been calling for such legislation.

“We really hope that this is a move that inspires other countries as well to recognise this very simple truth that sex without consent is rape,” added Blus, who has conducted extensive research into rape laws in Europe.

Critics, meanwhile, argue that the move won't lead to more convictions.

The decision in Sweden comes amid debate over the issue in Spain after a group of men known as the “Wolf Pack” were cleared in a high profile trial of rape but found guilty of the lesser charge of sexual abuse, which under law does not involve violence or intimidation.