Justice minister agrees to revisit rape definition amid outcry

Justice minister agrees to revisit rape definition amid outcry

Justice Minister Mihalis Kalogirou announced a “legislative improvement” of a controversial definition of rape included in a reformed penal code which the government introduced in Parliament this week, following an outcry by women’s groups, Amnesty International and even female SYRIZA lawmakers.

The new bill stipulates that rape is a crime but also refers to “lesser forms of coercion” as misdemeanors carrying a sentence of as little as three years.

“In consultation with the members of the legislative committees [there will be] a legislative improvement in paragraph 5, in order to achieve a proper balancing of the crime and any other behavior,” he told lawmakers on Thursday.

He did not specify what kind of changes he would make.

Amnesty International has denounced the new definition of rape as “unacceptable.”

The group took issue with Article 336 of the code for its definition of rape, saying that it makes access to justice for victims of rape “even more difficult.”

It added that its primary objection is that rape is still defined in terms of the physical threat it may present to a victim’s life and not on the basis of the absence of consent as stipulated in the Istanbul Convention which Greece ratified in 2018.

The article has also been denounced by the union of judges and prosecutors, leftist SYRIZA MPs Maria Theleriti and Anneta Kavadia, and SYRIZA’s youth wing.

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