A survey by I&O Research has shown that one in five Dutch men under 35 think that it is a mitigating circumstance for rape if a woman does not explicitly say no.

The survey was commissioned by Amnesty International, and asked 2000 Dutch respondents about their attitudes to and experiences with sexual violence in the Netherlands.

Currently, Minister for Justice Ferdinand Grapperhaus is working on introducing a new law to parliament, which would make it easier for people who commit sexual assault to be prosecuted. Currently, the burden of proof which lies on the person who is assaulted is very high: if, for example, the victim freezes and does not say no to their attacker, it is often impossible for rape to be proven. In order for someone to be convicted of rape, coercion has to be proven.

The new bill will make it easier for victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault to be protected. This sounds good on the surface, but campaigners for victims of sexual assault, including Amnesty International, object to it.

The problem with the new law

This is because the law creates a new offence, “sex against someone’s will” but does not label this as rape. “Sex against someone’s will must always be treated as rape. There must be no new offense. The rape offense must be adjusted,” head of gender program Martine Goeman tells NOS.

This potential new law was what motivated Amnesty International to commission this survey. It showed that 19% of young women have experienced someone having sex with them against without consent. 76% of those surveyed said that sex without mutual consent is rape, with or without the use of force. 84% feel that there are no mitigating circumstances for rape.

However, 11% of the men surveyed believed that if the victim does not clearly defend themselves or say no clearly, that should be considered a mitigating circumstance for rape. For men between the ages of 16 and 35, 20% believe this is the case.

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What are your thoughts on Minister Grappenhaus’s proposed law? Let us know in the comments below.

Feature Image: Free-Photos/Pixabay

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