Credit: Freepik

Czech President Pavel Signs Law Redefining Rape As Non-Consensual Intercourse

The definition of rape in the Czech Criminal Code will change from forcibly coerced sexual intercourse to any non-consensual sexual contact, as the stricter definition based on the “no means no” principle was signed by President Petr Pavel today, the Presidential Office has announced.

The amendment will come into force in January.

The amendment also modifies the legal treatment of sexual contact with children under 12 years of age. Courts should always consider this as rape or sexual assault, rather than the lesser offence of sexual abuse.

According to the amendment, victims’ non-consent need not be expressed only by words, but a gesture, crying or taking a defensive position will now be sufficient. The proposal also takes into account the victim’s defencelessness, when they are unable to express their will for some objective reason, such as illness, sleep, mental disorder, severe drunkenness, shackling, or disability.

The Ministry of Justice considers the concept of rape based on the principle of ‘no means no’ to be more appropriate than the concept based on the lack of active consent to sexual intercourse. Some states already apply the so-called “yes means yes” principle of positive consent.

The offence of rape is now to include only intercourse and other penetrative acts. Other forms of non-consensual sexual contact will be covered by a new separate offence of sexual assault in the Criminal Code.

The use of a weapon will lead to a higher penalty for both sexual assault and rape under the amendment.

Failure to prevent sexual coercion will now also be a punishable offence, similar to the failure to prevent sexual abuse. The offence of sexual coercion will be expanded to include abuse of someone’s distress.

Supporters of the change in the criminal definition of rape argued that it would improve the position of victims. The current approach, which defines rape as the use of force or abuse of defencelessness, has led to the majority of rapes going unreported by victims, campaigners argue.

In recent years, 16 European countries have moved to change the definition of rape. Malta, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Spain and Slovenia apply the “yes means yes” concept. Latvia, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and Sweden apply the “no means no” concept. France and Austria retain a definition of rape based on violence or threat.

Brno Daily Subscribe
Sign up for morning news in your mail