Denmark accused of having pervasive rape culture

Amnesty International recently issued a report which makes the claim that Denmark has a pervasive rape culture.

Victoria Wystepek
Victoria Wystepek NewsMavens, Europe
Denmark accused of having pervasive rape culture - NewsMavens
Mermaid in Copenhagen. Pixabay

Why this story matters:

These findings seem out of place given that Denmark usually tops the ranks as one of the best countries for gender equality. However, a survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights questioned 900 women from each EU country and found that a whopping 52% of women in Denmark reported being victims of gender-based violence.

Amnesty International’s latest report, titled “Give Us Respect and Justice! Overcoming Barriers to Justice for Women Rape Survivors in Denmark,” claims that social stigma and inadequate legislation contributes to the problem of rape in Denmark.

Danish law defines rape by the use of violence, threat, or coercion, which does not cover the complex reality of rape in the 21st Century. In 2014, Denmark signed the Istanbul Convention which included a pledge to criminalize any non-consensual sexual behavior, but the country has failed to write that pledge into domestic law. 

One Danish rape survivor recalled trying to report her rape to the police on four separate occasions. On the second try, police cautioned her that if she were lying she herself would face a police investigation. She told Amnesty International that “If I was 20 years old, I wouldn’t have proceeded after the first attempt. 

The report found that around three-fourths of rape in Denmark go unreported, and of the 500 brave people who did report it, only 20% of those rapists were convicted. The report recommends that Denmark change its laws and take steps to change the cultural stigma around reporting rape.

Details from the story:

  • Denmark has recently commissioned an expert panel to recommend initiatives that would support rape victims and connect them with professional treatment. Amnesty International approves of this step, but says that more needs to be done. 
  • Amnesty International says that Denmark's definition of rape according to violence is problematic because a common physiological reaction to rape is "involuntary paralysis" or "freezing," which explains why some women cannot physically resist.
  • Rape survivors told Amnesty International that reasons for not reporting rape were fear of being dismissed, victim blaming, and prejudice.
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