New modernised and consent-based sex offence law takes effect

The new sexual offences law which comes into effect on Monday will increase the legal protection for victims of sexual violence and harassment, outgoing justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz has said.

Mutual consent is at the centre of the law, both before and during sexual acts. The initiator must be sure the other person has consented and ask if they are in doubt.

The campaign is meant to raise awareness around consent, Yesilgöz said. It will emphasise the need to check signs a partner does not want sex, including non-verbal signs such as freezing.

“This law is setting a clear norm: sex should always be consensual and equal, both online and offline,” the justice minister said.

“A person who knows or can be supposed to know that the other person does not want sex and continues to force themselves on that person is committing a crime.”

Lawyer Ivonne Leenhouwers, who specialises in sexual offence cases, told the Volkskrant that the old law was a “mess” and needed to be modernised, but the new version placed a heavy burden on people to show that they had obtained consent.

“The threshold for what is an offence is much lower with this law,” she said. “I fear we will see all kinds of people getting wrongly caught up in legal procedures.”

The ministry has launched a national campaign to explain the implications of the new law. The campaign, which will be advertised on tv, radio and social media, will last some weeks.

More forms of sexual harassment will be punishable, including online sexual harassment, sex chatting and sexual intimidation. Penalties have also been raised. Rape is no longer subject to a statute if limitations and rape victims will no longer have to prove violence and force were used against them.

However, the ministry warned, the issue of proof will remain complicated because only two parties are involved. Corroborative evidence will still be “necessary”, such as physical evidence, camera footage or text messages.

Approaching a child under 16, or older and in a vulnerable position, will also be punishable by law, even before a meeting for sexual purposes has been arranged.

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Categories: Alternative, Dutch News
Anton Nieuwenhuizen

Written by:Anton Nieuwenhuizen All posts by the author

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