At the end of 2019, Mr Grapperhaus, Minister of Justice and Safety proposed a new bill to modernise the current legislation on sexual violence. One of the elements is expansion with a new offence: sex without consent.
Article 239 (Sexual interaction without consent [new]
1. He who performs sexual acts on a person or lets a person perform sexual acts with him or himself or a third person, or has a third person perform sexual acts on a person while he knows, or should reasonably suspect that these acts are against the will of that person, will be punishable by a maximum of four years imprisonment or a monetary penalty in category 4.
2. If the acts referred to in the first paragraph include, or incorporate sexual penetration of the body it shall be punishable by a maximum of six years imprisonment or a monetary penalty in category 4.”
Read the whole bill here (in Dutch)
There is already a law regarding rape:
Criminal Code, article 242: “Any person who by an act of violence or any other act or by threat of violence or threat of any other act compels a person to submit to acts comprising or including sexual penetration of the body, will be punishable as guilty of rape by a maximum of twelve years imprisonment or a monetary penalty in category 5.”
The big differences are the terms used (‘sexual interaction without consent’ and ‘rape’) and the penalties: four to six years and twelve years. This means it’s no longer rape when no violence is used or needs to be used – many victims freeze or are overwhelmed, manipulated or choose not to resist in case of force majeure. That doesn’t make the lasting damage any less: many victims struggle with their trauma for years, whether violence was used or not. Moreover, there is no such thing as sex without consent. As sexologist Ellen Laan states: “Sex is affectionately shared enjoyment between equals” – and for that shared enjoyment, consent is crucial.
I advocate not adding a new offence, but changing the existing rape offence so that mutual consent is the core, and threatening with, or using force can lead to an increase in the quantum of the penalty incurred.
Note: some sceptics wonder if you should sign a contract before having sex. It doesn’t have to be like that: exploring, and asking for that consent with ‘a partner in intimacy’ is part of the game for me, and you can make that fun too! But do ask about it and always talk about it.
You can read more here about Amnesty’s campaign (in Dutch)