legal experts agree

Consent law "normative" rather than practical

Introducing a clause on consent in the rape laws, as suggested by the Liberal Party among others, would not lead to more convictions, according to legal experts interviewed by the news agency TT. A change in the law may however have a normative effect.

"We won't get away from the fact that one word often stands against another in rape cases. A law on consent strengthen the status of the victim, but I cannot see that it would solve the problems with evidence," says Katrin Lainpelto, who researches into supporting evidence.

And law professor Christian Diesen, who is a strong supporter of including a clause on consent in the law, agrees.

"They have had it in the UK since 1976 and there have not been more convictions there. It is always the prosecutor who has to prove a crime has been committed  and it is just as hard to prove that someone has been forced as it is to prove someone has not consented," he says.

Diesen does not agree with the Swedish Bar Association, which warns that such a law risk leading to a reversal of the burden of evidence. "The man has to explain how he was given permission, but in terms of evidence there is no difference compared to today. He will say 'she was in on it'. One word will still stand against another," says Diesen.

When explaining how the consent was given, the man will go on to describe the woman's behaviour, but Diesen says the court is already focusing a lot on the woman's behaviour.

But he says, there are a lot of signs that the law in itself means fewer crimes are committed. "A new norm is created which means men have to see their responsibility. You try to impress on people that there has to be a clear yes and that you take a very big risk by having sex with someone who for example is drunk," Christian Diesen tells TT.