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Tougher penalties Government backs broader definition of rape

Laurence Fehlmann Rielle

Parliamentarian Laurence Fehlmann Rielle introduced the motion

(Keystone)

The Swiss government has backed a parliamentary motion to expand the legal definition of rape. Forced sexual acts would be punished more severely, homosexual rape would be recognised and a woman could be convicted for rape.

In current Swiss criminal law, rape is defined as an act committed by a male against a female and forced sexual acts are subject to lesser minimum penalties.

The motion was proposed by a centre-left Social Democrat parliamentarian from Geneva. The governments answer was published on Thursday.

Switzerland’s Federal Councilexternal link (executive body) rejected a similar motion in 2014, deeming that the matter was not urgent but recognising that Swiss law defines rape more narrowly than in many countries.

Parliament last year authorised the government to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violenceexternal link, which defines rape without reference to gender.

Laurence Fehlmann Rielle, who introduced the motionexternal link, argued that it was now time to adapt Swiss law and adapt to the demands of the current context.

This comes amid growing awareness of rape and sexual violence in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal.

SDA-ATS/jc

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