Sweden moves to require explicit consent for sex

Jan M. Olsen
Associated Press

Copenhagen, Denmark – Sweden is moving to change its rape law to shift the burden of proof from the victim to the alleged attacker, in a proposal that would require people to get explicit consent before sexual contact.

Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin said the recent #metoo anti-harassment campaign “has shown that there is a need” for the new legislation, which is expected to be approved Thursday in Parliament.

Under current Swedish law, someone can be prosecuted for rape only if it is proven that they used threats or violence. Under the proposal, rape could be proven if the accuser didn’t give their explicit verbal agreement or clearly demonstrate their desire to engage in sexual activity.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said the “historic reform,” which his coalition has been preparing since taking power in 2014, aims to shift the burden of proof from the victim of a rape or sexual assault to the alleged attacker.

Addressing victims, he said: “Society is standing by your side.”

If the bill is approved, it would go into effect on July 1.

The proposal is part of a series of initiatives being put forward. Others would make it illegal for Swedes to hire prostitutes abroad, and increase sentences for offenders. Buying sex in Sweden is already illegal.

Critics say the proposal wouldn’t result in more convictions.