Denmark Has Highest Rape Because of Liberal Laws - Amnesty Claims

Published March 7th, 2019 - 02:00 GMT
Denmark, a country that regularly tops international indexes of gender equality and access to justice, is failing victims of rape, a new study shows  (Twitter)
Denmark, a country that regularly tops international indexes of gender equality and access to justice, is failing victims of rape, a new study shows (Twitter)

Denmark has the highest rape numbers in Europe and mask a pervasive rape culture with outward social liberalism, Amnesty International claim.

Denmark's reputation for gender equality belies their 'insidious culture of victim blaming,' Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said.

In 2017, the EU's Institute for Gender Equality put Denmark at the top of the pile for gender equality, beaten only by Sweden.

However, Amnesty say that Danish law's definition of rape is outdated and not based on lack of consent.

Instead it uses a definition based on whether physical violence, threat or coercion was involved or if the victim is found to have been unable to resist.


In 2017, just 890 rapes were reported to the police. Of these, 535 resulted in prosecutions and only 94 in convictions.

This is despite government figures showing that 5,100 women experienced rape or attempted rape in 2017 and a separate study putting this figure far higher at 24,000 women.

Amnesty believe this is flawed legislation and helps in the spreading of gender stereotypes which has resulted in impunity for rapists.

'Despite Denmark's image as a land of gender equality, the reality for women is starkly different, with shockingly high levels of impunity for sexual violence and antiquated rape laws which fail to meet international standards,' said Mr Naidoo.

'The simple truth is that sex without consent is rape.

'Failure to recognise this in law leaves women exposed to sexual violence and fuels a dangerous culture of victim blaming and impunity reinforced by myths and stereotypes which pervade Danish society: from playground to locker room, police station to witness stand.'

Mr Naidoo's organisation point to what they say are deeply entrenched biases within the justice system and the fear of not being believed which causes an under-reporting of rape.

Their research is based on interviews with 18 women and girls over the age of 15 who have experienced rape, as well as other experts.

Amnesty said that many of the women were met with dismissive attitudes, victim blaming, and prejudice.

Kirstine, a 39-year-old journalist, claimed she had tried four times to file a report of rape with the police. On her second attempt she was taken to a police cell and warned that she could go to prison if she was lying.

She described how the reporting process meant 'enduring new fear, shame and humiliation' and told Amnesty: 'If I was 20-years-old, I wouldn't have proceeded after the first attempt.'

Another woman told Amnesty International how intimidated she felt going to the police: 'I was just one 21-year-old woman, sitting there with two guys looking at me, saying, "are you sure you want to report this?" … I was just a young girl 'claiming' to have been raped.'

Experts believe that Danish law assumes consent in cases of 'involuntary paralysis' or 'freezing' which victims of sexual assault can experience.

The Danish government recently set up a panel to put forward proposals that could help victims.

But Amnesty said this fell short of anything significant and bolder steps were needed.


This article has been adapted from its original source.    

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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