This week's post was compiled by Delphi Cleaveland, Research Associate with the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Denmark Passes Consent Law
This week, Denmark became the 12th country in Europe to recognize sex without consent as rape. Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Iceland, Cyprus, and the United Kingdom already have similar laws While the previous statute in Denmark placed the burden of proof solely on the victim of violence, the new law broadens the definition of rape, and will be accompanied by efforts from the Justice Ministry to educate youth and support victims through the establishment of a 24/7 hotline and a revised sex education curriculum. France recently updated its sexual violence statute but disregarded calls to adopt a consent-based rape law, and several other European nations still do not comply with the Istanbul Convention on women's rights, despite having ratified it.
Kenyan High Court Recognizes Post-Election Sexual Violence
The High Court in Kenya ruled this week in favor of four survivors of post-election sexual violence. Following the disputed presidential election in 2007, Kenya erupted into violence resulting in the sexual assault of over 1,100 men and women, according to the Kenyan Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence. The landmark ruling, which was announced on International Human Rights Day, marks the first time that the Kenyan Court recognized post-election sexual violence and awarded survivors compensation for harm suffered. The decision, however, recognized harms endured by only four out of the eight survivor-petitioners.
Global Rise in Female Prison Population
The number of women in prison globally is climbing at an alarming rate, despite most being convicted of low-level nonviolent crimes. The Bangkok Rules, which were implemented a decade ago, aimed to reduce the imprisonment of women by promoting non-custodial alternatives and addressing root causes of criminal behavior. Yet over the last ten years, numbers have risen in every region except Europe. Over 80 organizations have called for governments to take action by fully implementing rules and reviewing policies to reduce the number of women behind bars. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the disparity in women’s rights and access to justice, as many are denied contact with their children, excluded from emergency release programs, and unable to access essential items such as sanitary products.