The left-wing Swedish governing coalition is looking to drastically tighten the country’s sexual consent laws which will require prior verbal or written consent from both partners in the near future.
The government has said the new laws, which will go into effect in July of next year, will require both partners to have explicit verbal or written consent in order to engage in sexual activity, or be open to potential rape charges Die Welt reports.
Previously Swedish law stated that sexual relations were deemed consensual as long as neither partner said “no” except in cases of extreme intoxication. The new legislation claims to only require oral permission beforehand but many have speculated that in a potential rape allegation it would be wiser to have the permission written down on paper.
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Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Löfven defended the new legislation on Sunday saying, “The message is simple. You need to ask the person you want to have sex about if she wants it. If you are unsure, you have to leave it. Sex must be voluntary.” The law is said to be inspired by the #MeToo campaign which has seen several prominent media organisations and even the far-left activist group Expo, rocked by sexual misconduct allegations.
Swedish politicians and the mainstream media have largely agreed on the new law without much in the way of debate. One dissenting voice has been columnist Staffan Heimerson who called the new law a “witch-hunt” and likened it to “Stalin’s purges.” He was fired by newspaper Aftonbladet soon after making his remarks.
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Despite the already tough rape and sexual assault laws, Sweden continues to see instances of often brutal rapes including a case earlier this week in which a 17-year-old was reportedly partially lit on fire after being raped.
Some, like lawyer Elisabeth Fritz, have claimed the majority of suspects in rape cases are migrants or come from migrant backgrounds, though the government has refused to release statistics on criminal suspect’s ethnic backgrounds.