One year after the historic women’s strike on June 14, 2019, dozens of organisations and names from politics, medicine, culture and legal circles have launched a national appeal for a “modern sexual criminal law”.
They are calling for a revision of the Swiss Penal Code so that all non-consensual sexual acts “can be punished appropriately”. In concrete terms, “offences under Article 189 (sexual coercion) and 190 (rape) must be amended accordingly”, the signatories said in a statement on Friday.
“Sexual self-determination is a fundamental human right. Sex requires the consent of all persons involved,” they said. “The law must finally protect sexual self-determination better!”
Today, the law only recognises a sexual act against a person’s will as a crime if the victim has been coerced into it, for example by violence or threat. A “no” in itself is not enough, said Amnesty International Switzerland and other signatory organisations on Friday.
“The current law is a relic from a time that we want to leave behind. Sexual acts against the will of the victim must be recognised as a serious crime – even if there was no coercion,” said Lisa Mazzone, a member of the Senate for the Green Party.
A representative survey conducted by gfs.berne on behalf of Amnesty International in 2019 revealed that 22% of women in Switzerland had experienced unwanted sexual acts during their lives and 12% had suffered sexual intercourse against their will. Only 8% of those affected went to the police.
The justice ministry is currently examining how Swiss criminal law should deal with sexual acts against a person’s will when neither violence nor threats have been used.
Nine countries in Europe already criminalise rape based on lack of consent: Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden and Britain. Reforms are under discussion in Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland.Keystone-SDA/ts