NGO proposes legislative changes to redefine sexual violence

Ljubljana, 2 February – The NGO Inštitut 8. Marec filed an initiative in parliament on Tuesday to collect 5,000 signatures in support of its legislative proposal redefining the crimes of rape and sexual violence. The NGO proposes such crimes be treated in line with the concent principle “yes means yes”.

A petition for redefining rape and sexual violence had been filed in January 2019. The then Justice Minister Andreja Katič promised changes in this respect, but neither the previous not the current government have proposed any systemic changes, Mojca Lukan from Inštitut 8. Marec told the press today.

“Because those in power are thus sending the message to victims of sexual violence that it was their own fault, we’ve decided to draw up a proposal ourselves,” Lukan said.

The head of the NGO, Nika Kovač, said they had opted for the harder way because they did not want anyone to score political points.

“We heard voices yesterday bravely sharing their experiences, now is the time for us to form a movement together, to say ‘it’s enough’ and change the legislation,” she said, adding this was the only way to have fewer victims and to help victims speak up.

Currently, the law says sexual crimes must involve the use of force, which forces the victims to resist actively, thus risking even greater violence, Kristina Krajnc from the NGO said.

This means the perpetrators are often found not guilty if the victim is asleep, unconscious or numb. Such was a case processed by a court in Koper where a man accused of rape was acquitted because the victim was asleep when the rape started.

This is why the NGO proposes the principle “yes means yes”, which has been adopted by many European countries.

The NGO said many victims of sexual violence at university institutions had turned to them. “This is something that is happening in all institutions with hierarchic relations,” Kovač said.

She also pointed to a series of accusations of sexual harassment on Slovenske Železnice trains, saying “absolutely nothing has been done yet”.

After receiving an initiative for legislative changes, the parliamentary speaker has seven days to inform the ministry in charge of the voting rights register and to set the deadline for the 60-day collecting of signatures.

If all the conditions are met, the motion enters the legislative process and the National Assembly processes it like any other bill.

The Justice Ministry welcomed the initiative but indicated it would press ahead with a previously proposed model known as “no means no”, which NGOs including Inštitut 8. Marec do not consider as going far enough.

The ministry said far-reaching changes to the criminal code were being drawn up concerning consent in crimes against inviolability of sexual integrity.

It said “no means no” had been recognized by an expert group as the most sustainable model in that it will give law enforcement an effective prosecution tool while providing legal certainty to all those involved in a criminal procedure.