False accusations were not brought about by changing the definition of rape

Denmark, Sweden, and the UK have not seen an increase in false accusations since the adoption of the change in the definition of rape, including the absence of consent.

Representatives of these countries said this at a seminar yesterday on the possible benefits and risks of adopting the new definition. It was held within the framework of the Subcommittee on Domestic and Sexual Violence of the House Committee on Constitutional Law.

“In the 20 years, I have been a judge, I have had only two cases of false accusation. One was discovered in a police investigation and the other in court,” said British Supreme Court Justice Martin Picton.

The increase in the number of cases is normal

The UK adopted a change to the definition of rape in 2003 that requires consent, even non-verbal consent.

Investigations and trials in England and Wales also account for various details of cases, such as the victim’s age, social media communications between the actors, and witness statements.

Gyrithe Ulrich, the Danish deputy public prosecutor in Copenhagen, and Stina Holmberg, a Swedish senior researcher at the National Crime Prevention Council, agreed with Picton on the rarity of false accusations.

In 2018, Sweden adopted a definition of rape based on the absence of consent; Denmark will follow suit in 2021.

“In 2021, the year we passed the law, we saw a 50 percent increase in reported crimes. There was also a forty percent increase in the number of rape convictions in 2022,” Ulrich noted.

Holmberg said the statistical increase is expected. Victims are more inclined to report rape after the change. There is also a growing awareness of the trauma they are dealing with after the fact. Moreover, she said the number of cases had not increased rapidly.

“In 2019, 20 percent more rape cases were tried, involving 76 offenses.” They frequently included young people who had become sexually involved at a party, but things had escalated. Other times, the victim shared a bed with the perpetrator but did not consent to sex, and the majority were acquaintances, not partners,” Holmberg said, adding that concerns about an increase in false rapes have not been confirmed in four years.

The victim’s statement must be corroborated by other evidence, whether it is another witness statement, a confession by the perpetrator, such as a text message, or an audio or visual recording of the situation.

Some Members of Parliament want the change

Concerns about false accusations often accompany discussions about redefining rape in the country. The subcommittee on domestic and sexual violence of the Constitutional Law Committee is advocating for this.

According to its chair, Tatiana Malé (ANO), a concrete proposal could be discussed early this year.

“We have an agreement with the Ministry of Justice, where the expert body met. We have an agreement with the Justice Minister (Pavel Blažek, ODS) that we will take further steps when this commission reaches its results. It should be at the end of February,” Malá said.

She added that it is necessary to find a political and professional consensus. However, she said it is required to change the definition, especially since it is estimated that up to 95 % of rapes in the Czech Republic go unreported.