The new consent law in practice

An updated review of the changes in 2018 to the legal rules concerning rape

English summary of Brå report 2020:6

On 1 July 2018, changes were made to the legislation concerning rape, meaning that the law is now based upon the absence of consent instead of the occurrence of violence, threats or a particularly vulnerable situation. The new law was welcomed by many people as constituting an important societal signal, but there were also concerns (particularly from lawyers) that it would be difficult to apply.

Presentation by Stina Holmberg, researcher at The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, from the 2021 Research Seminar arranged by the Nordic Research Council for Criminology.

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The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) has been commissioned to review the application of the new legal rules. We have looked at all 362 court judgements from 2019 that involved the consummated rape of a woman, as well as 37 judgements from courts of appeal, and one judgement from the Supreme Court. We have also studied crime statistics and have obtained opinions about how well the new rules have been applied from representatives of the legal system and from voluntary organisations.

This review has been conducted at a relatively early stage, and cannot therefore give any definitive picture. Nevertheless, Brå hopes that this report will be of value to discussions of the law’s merits and of any difficulties or legal problems that could arise when courts are to apply the new rules.


© The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention 2020
Authors: Stina Holmberg and Lars Lewenhagen

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