Amnesty International calls for legal reform in Greece

Amnesty International has pointed out the need for a change in the legal definition of rape in the Greek Penal Code.

Dialekti Angeli
Dialekti Angeli NewsMavens, Greece
Amnesty International calls for legal reform in Greece - NewsMavens
Athens, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Greek courts usually impose soft sentences on the perpetrators of gender-based crimes, or even exonerate them. This leads to a never-ending vicious circle of violence against women. The situation has not changed since Greece’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention in March 2018 either, as there is still a need for it implementation and improvements in the national legislation.

Amnesty International recently started a campaign to change the legal definition of rape in the Greek Penal Code, and in particular Article 336 of the Code, which defines rape as intercourse resulting from coercion through the use of physical violence or the threat of great and imminent danger, ignoring the fact that rape can occur without these features.

The organization says that the proposed amendment of the Ministry of Justice Legislative Committee focuses on the resistance and the violence rather than the lack of freely given consent -- assessed in the circumstances -- as required by international laws and standards.

Amnesty International deems the Greek amendment to be inadequate and ineffective and for that reason, prepared a memorandum that it submitted in the framework of the public consultation of the reform of the Penal Code, highlighting three main objections to the rape proposal on Article 336:

  1. Failure to integrate a definition based on consensus. The proposal of the drafting committee only mentions the exercise of physical violence or threat that directly imposes the life or physical integrity of the victim. The proposed definition does not cover blackmail or threats, i.e. cases that do not necessarily involve physical violence.
  2. Complete absence of an integrated definition, in which it is precisely defined which act constitutes rape, as well as the absence of a clear identification of all types of penetration.
  3. Need to define sentences and adopt the so-called "aggravating circumstances", such as the age of the victim, the existence of many offenders and the heavy physical and psychological impact on the victim. The organization aims to put an end to the impunity of the part of the perpetrators, who get through the court process with the judicial equivalent of a slap on the wrist -- in the best case scenario -- as well as minimizing the crime in public consciousness and reproducing stereotypes that stigmatize victims.

Details from the story:

  • Recent research by the Fundamental Rights Agency on violence against women, shows alarming results regarding genderbased violence.
  • One in ten women in the EU (11%) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 15.
  • One woman in 20 (5%) has been raped, concluding that more than 9 million women in the EU have been raped.
  • The complaints of rape incidents are very low (14%).
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