Amnesty International hails amendment to rape law

Amnesty International hails amendment to rape law

Amnesty International on Thursday applauded the amendment of Article 336 in the new criminal code redefining what constitutes rape after a public outcry over the previous much more lenient definition.

“The new definition includes the concept of non-consent as an element of rape, as demanded by everybody in the public debate [on the law], by human rights groups, women's movements and the relevant agencies,” AI said in a statement following the amendment submitted to Parliament by Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou.

The amendment came after Article 336 came under heavy criticism for failing to clarify that any sexual act without the consent of both parties constitutes rape. It had instead defined rape as a sexual act committed with the use of force or the threat of force. Under the previous definition rape could be downgraded to a misdemeanor carrying a prison sentence of just three years. With the amendment, the crime is once more a felony, punishable by up to 10 years behind bars.

Amnesty International also stressed the need for all authorities, ranging from the police to public prosecutors and lawyers, to be properly briefed on the concept of consent so as to ensure that the law is properly upheld.

Under Article 36 of the Council of Europe's 2018 Istanbul Convention, which Greece is a signatory of, all non-consensual sexual acts are treated as a felony.

The amendment, AI added, is “also an important step in combatting the culture of rape in Greek society and in changing mentalities and individual and social behavior.”

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