New sexual offence legislation based on consent
The Government has presented a proposal to the Council on Legislation concerning new sexual offence legislation that is based on consent.
The incidence of sexual offences is increasing in Sweden, with younger women facing the greatest risk. At the same time, too few of these offences are reported. Reversing this negative trend requires both new legislation and changes in attitudes. In the legislative proposal, the Government therefore proposes introducing new sexual consent legislation based on the obvious: sex must be voluntary. Accordingly, convicting a perpetrator of rape will no longer require that violence or threats were used, or that the victim's particularly vulnerable situation was exploited.
The Government also proposes introducing two new offences, 'negligent rape' and 'negligent sexual abuse', with a maximum prison sentence of four years. The negligence aspect focuses on the fact that the other person did not participate voluntarily. This means that it will be possible to convict more people of abuse than at present, for example when someone should be aware of the risk that the other person is not participating voluntarily but still engages in a sexual act with that person.
Below are other proposals the Government is referring to the Council on Legislation for consideration:
- increasing the minimum penalty for gross rape and gross rape of a child from four to five years imprisonment;
- enhancing the protection provided under criminal law concerning sexual offences against children where the perpetrator displayed negligence with regard to the child's age. One of the aims of these amendments is to avoid the problem of excessive emphasis being placed on the child's physical development; and
- providing support to victims of sexual offences at an earlier stage of the process. When a preliminary investigation on a sexual offence is initiated, a request for a counsel to represent the injured party is to be made immediately.
It is proposed that the legislative amendments enter into force on 1 July 2018.