EU fails to agree on legal definition of rape

Feb 9, 2024

After months of negotiations, members of the European Parliament called for the introduction of consensual definition of rape Throughout the European Union. However, it was clear that this had not been achieved when Frances FitzGerald, an Irish member of the European Parliament and an envoy, was tasked with drawing up common guidelines. cruelty against women Presented the results of negotiations within the European Union, between the European Parliament and the Council European Union Conversation with media on Tuesday evening.
“For the first time, the EU has sent a clear message that we take violence against women seriously as an existential threat to our security,” said Fitzgerald, vice-chair of the conservative European People's Party bloc of MEPs. But, he said, clearly angry, “While we could not find an agreed-upon definition of rape in this directive, many of us will have found quite disturbing information about attitudes towards rape in member states. “
Different EU member states have different rules for how rape is defined in their criminal codes, and this will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future. The Council of the European Union, which represents member states, opposed unifying the definition of rape during the negotiation process.
'Only yes means yes'
The “only yes means yes” approach applies in 14 member states, including Sweden, Spain, Croatia and Greece, according to an October 2023 analysis by the European Women's Lobby, a leading organization of women's NGOs in the EU. The idea is that there must be explicit consent for sexual contact.
In Germany and Austria, the “no means no” principle still applies. For this, the victims will have to prove that they have verbally refused to engage in sexual acts.
According to the European Women's Lobby, in the remaining 11 EU countries, including most Eastern European member states, as well as France and Italy, resistance to violence or a threatening situation is still considered an essential element of rape.
When the European Commission presented its proposal for a uniform EU law on March 8, 2022, it was with a view to achieving the objectives of the Istanbul Convention, which applied in Member States from 2014 to 2018. Most EU member states have ratified the convention, which aims to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. The entire European Union also joined the agreement on June 1, 2023.
EU member states disagree
The Istanbul Convention states that it should be illegal to “engage in vaginal, anal or oral penetration of another person's body with any bodily organ or object without consent”.
In its 2022 proposal for a directive combating violence against women, the European Commission stated in Article 5 that “A woman shall not be subjected to any non-consensual act of vaginal, anal or oral penetration of a sexual nature by another person.” “Inspire to join together.” bodily part or object” should be punishable as a criminal offence.
This would mean implementing the “only yes means yes” principle throughout the EU. However, the article no longer appeared in the May 2023 report of the Council of the European Union, which decided to remove it on the basis of legal advice.
“The Council legal service and several other member states came to the conclusion that there was an insufficient legal basis for this provision in European primary law,” German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said at an informal meeting in Brussels about two weeks ago.
In line with this interpretation, the EU does not have the competence to initiate legal standardization. According to the Agence France-Presse news agency, countries like France and Hungary are also in this position.
EU member states also disagree here. Fitzgerald said 13 out of 27 states were in favor of introducing a consent-based approach across the EU.
The negative reaction from member states has drawn sharp criticism from women and women's rights activists across the EU. More than 100 prominent women in Germany have publicly called on the Justice Minister to change his position.
In a press release, European Women's Lobby policy and campaigns officer Irene Rosales said that EWL said it was appalled by the Council's decision to block “several key aspects” of the directive and “the abuses imposed by France and Germany to remove the Article “Deeply” regret the decision. 5 on a harmonized definition of rape based on consent” as outlined in the Istanbul Convention.
“This is utter hypocrisy and a terrible missed opportunity to protect women and girls from one of the most abhorrent forms of violence,” she said.
The new directive on protecting women against violence includes rules against genital mutilation and forced marriage. Additionally, it also makes illegal the unwanted sharing of intimate photographs and sending unwanted images (cyberflashing) as well as cyberstalking.
The directive has still to be formally adopted by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. EU member states will have three years to transpose the directive into national law.

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