The Swedish government has proposed a law which requires explicit consent from both parties before sexual contact – or it can be classified as rape.
Explicit consent would be obtained either through verbal agreement or clear demonstration of a desire to engage in sexual activity, the proposal states.
The new consent law, which is expected to be approved by Parliament this week, would shift the burden of proof from a victim of rape or sexual assault to the alleged attacker.
Under current Swedish law, someone can be prosecuted for rape only if it is proven that they used threats or violence, or if the victim is vulnerable due to being unconscious, asleep, drunk or similar.
Under the new law, agreement would be needed for all parts of the sexual act, to cover incidents when one act has been agreed and a perpetrator surprises the victim with an unwanted act.
This has previously been difficult to prove as rape in a court of law as there may not have been any threat or violence involved.
Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin said the recent #metoo anti-harassment campaign ‘has shown that there is a need’ for the new legislation.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said the ‘historic reform,’ which his coalition has been preparing since taking power in 2014, aims to shift the burden of proof from the victim of a rape or sexual assault to the alleged attacker.
Addressing victims, he said: ‘Society is standing by your side.’
If the bill is approved, it would go into effect on July 1.
The proposal is part of a series of initiatives being put forward. Others would make it illegal for Swedes to hire prostitutes abroad, and increase sentences for offenders.
Buying sex in Sweden is already illegal, while it is not illegal to be a prostitute.