Sweden Strengthens Rape Law
Last week, the Swedish parliament passed a law that defines any sex without explicit consent as rape. Under the previous law, prosecutors needed to demonstrate that a perpetrator used force, threats, or was taking advantage of a person’s vulnerable situation in order for a case to qualify as rape. In recent years, the number of reported sexual assault crimes in Sweden has grown, from less than one percent in 2012 to 2.4 percent in 2016. Sweden’s justice minister said the change represents “modern legislation based on modern relationships.” With the new law, Sweden joins nine other Western European countries with consent-based legislation, including Belgium, Ireland, Cyprus, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Rohingya Women Bring Atrocity Case to ICC
Twenty pages of thumbprints serve as the signatures of Rohingya women and girls who are demanding the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate atrocities committed against their community. On Wednesday, the group Shanti Mohila—or “Peace Women”—submitted the request on behalf of four hundred women refugees, asserting that the Myanmar government is conducting “a genocidal campaign that spans both Myanmar and Bangladesh.” Women and girls face devastating and systematic sexual violence, with many arriving in Bangladeshi camps pregnant and lacking adequate maternal care. One of the signatories of the petition told The Washington Post she was “proud to be one of the women taking action to get justice for my people.” Although Myanmar is not a signatory to the ICC, the group’s lawyers argue that crimes persist after Rohingya women travel to Bangladesh, a country that does fall under the court’s jurisdiction.
Indian Government Addresses Violence against Women
Amid public outcry over a string of brutal assaults, the Indian Home Ministry announced the creation of a new division to address issues related to security of women. From 2007 to 2016, crimes against women in India surged 83 percent. Though lawmakers have introduced measures to expand the definition of sex crimes and speed up the prosecutions of rape cases, survivors of sexual violence still face significant barriers to justice and support services. India’s high rate of violence against women is not only detrimental to human rights, but also to economic growth: in a series of interviews with Bloomberg, Indian women cited fear for their own or children’s safety as their reason for leaving the workforce. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that India could increase its GDP by $770 billion by 2025 by closing the gap between men and women in the economy.