Gender Equality Minister Åsa Regner speaks to the #metoo demonstration in Sergel's Square on Sunday.
Gender Equality Minister Åsa Regner speaks to the #metoo demonstration in Sergel's Square on Sunday. Credit: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden to propose new sexual consent law by Christmas

2:59 min

Åsa Regnér, Sweden's minister for gender equality, pledged at a demonstration on Sunday that the government would propose a new stricter law on sexual consent by Christmas.

Regnér told Radio Sweden that the success of the global #metoo campaign against sexual harassment had empowered her.

Nearly 1,500 people gathered in Stockholm's central Sergels Square on Sunday to raise awareness of sexual harassment, building on a hugely successful social media campaign that has prompted women across the world to share their experiences, using the hashtag #metoo.

"I think that women in the world are really asking for gender equality on a very hands-on, daily basis and I think that, at least in Sweden, organisations, workplaces, employers, have also understood that message," she said. "So I, as the minister for gender equality, feel very supported by this campaign."

Regnér said that the proposed law already had the backing of a majority in the Swedish parliament, meaning that it would almost certainly become law next year.

The idea behind the law has been criticised by many Swedish lawyers, including the Swedish Bar Association, because it is difficult to see how it could be formulated without requiring any couples or groups engaging in a sexual act to each give an explicit verbal consent beforehand.

There are also fears that the law might end up criminalising even voluntary sex if no such prior verbal consent has been given.

Regnér also conceded that the law would do little to prevent the sort of workplace sexual harassment which has been the principle target of the #metoo campaign.

"One single change of legislation cannot solve the problem," she said. "What we're talking about here are unjust power structures."

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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