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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The definition of rape in the Penal Code needs to be changed. “We now have a presumption of consent.”

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Amnesty International is again advocating for the safety of Polish women, and it is not the only organization that is fighting to change the definition of rape. The current one helps the perpetrator and harms the victim – emphasize the authors of the bill on changing the definition of rape. The change in power gives hope for a change in approach. Parliamentary work on the project is scheduled to start within a few days.

“Finally take care of women’s safety” – this is Amnesty International’s appeal to the future Polish government. – It is a continuation of our appeal to subsequent Polish governments, but we hope that this time we will succeed – says Agnieszka Dąbrowiecka from Amnesty International.

MPs from the Left also see a chance for change, as they have already submitted a bill to the Sejm to change the definition of rape, because the current definition – as they emphasize – helps the perpetrator and harms the victim. – At the moment we have a presumption of consent. What is presumption of consent? This means that we assume in advance that the woman wants it – explains Danuta Wawrowska, lawyer, co-author of the bill on changing the definition of rape.

The current definition of rape dates back to the last century. In the 1932 code it read as follows: “Whoever, by force, unlawful threat or deceit, causes another person to submit to an illicit act (…) shall be subject to the penalty of imprisonment.” And what does it sound like now? – “fornication” was changed to “sexual intercourse”. – This definition does not actually cover most of the situations we call rape – emphasizes Joanna Gzyra-Iskandar from the Feminoteka Foundation.

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Read also: The former policeman was accused of rape and sexual abuse of detainees. He heard the verdict

For Polish law to recognize rape as rape, the victim should defend herself, resist, scream, pull and beat. – In many cases, the victim simply does not defend herself because she does not know what else the perpetrator can do to her – for example, kill her – Wawrowska points out.

The first Center for Helping Women After Rape in Poland. It was founded by the Feminoteka Foundation without government support

They also want to raise the lower limit of the penalty

Rape is the lack of consent to sex – this is how the Istanbul Convention briefly defines it. Poland should have implemented it a long time ago, just like other countries, notes Amnesty International. – This is happening. At this point, at least 10 countries have already changed the definition – including Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Iceland, Sweden, Malta, Greece – enumerates Dąbrowiecka.

The authors of the project estimate that every tenth rapist is brought to justice, and every hundredth is sent to prison. That’s why they also want to raise the lower limit of the sentence from two to three years in prison. Then it will be much more difficult to issue suspended sentences, which are now common. – So that the crime of rape will finally become a crime, just like in the entire civilized world. Here in Poland, it is still a crime – reminds Wawrowska.

See also: After the verdict, a gynecologist convicted of raping a patient taught at the university and worked in a hospital

MPs talk about little success because the project is no longer in the parliamentary freezer. – Next week I will want it to be signed by representatives of all clubs – says Anita Kucharska-Dziedzic, MP from the Left, co-author of the bill on changing the definition of rape.

If you are experiencing emotional problems and would like advice or support, here you will find a list of organizations offering professional help. In a situation of immediate threat to life, call 997 or 112.

Main photo source: Fakty TVN

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