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Denmark proposes change to sexual violence laws to include consent

Minister of Justice, Nick Haekkerup, has hailed the proposal as a huge step towards equality.
Minister of Justice, Nick Haekkerup, has hailed the proposal as a huge step towards equality.   -   Copyright  FILE - Ida Guldbaek Arentsen / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP
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The Danish government announced plans to reform sexual violence laws to make consent rather than violence the basis for determining rape.

Current law states that rape only includes cases where a person has used violence, threats of violence, or if a victim is unable to resist.

But a government communication has proposed that consent must now be given voluntarily and "be an expression of free will".

The reform proposal was presented on Tuesday by the Danish Social Democratic government and its three centre-left allies.

"I am very pleased that we agree on a consent-based rape provision," Minister of Justice Nick Hækkerup said in a statement.

"Rape victims must have far better legal protection than they have today".

"We must have changed society's understanding of what rape is, and a new consent-based rape provision is a milestone in that effort".

The proposed reform has also been welcomed by women's groups in the country.

The Danish Women's Society called the proposal a "historic victory for legality and the right to take sexual decisions".

The bill will be presented to parliament in October, where it will likely receive majority support before it can enter into force.

The move would bring Denmark's legislation on rape in line with other European countries, including Belgium, Germany, Sweden, and the UK.