Greek Government Backs Down Over Definition Of Rape After Outcry



The Greek government announced on Thursday a “legislative improvement” of a controversial definition of rape included in a reformed penal code, after women’s organizations and Amnesty International expressed deep concerns.

Justice Minister Mihalis Kalogirou said in Parliament “in consultation with the members of the legislative committees [there will be] a legislative improvement, in order to achieve a proper balancing of the crime and any other behavior.”

Earlier, Amnesty International (AI) had said in a statement that it was concerned that the current and proposed legal definitions of rape in the Greek penal code “are focused on resistance and violence rather than lack of freely given consent… as required by international law and standards.”

Amnesty said that it believes the proposed change, as envisaged in Article 336, is “a significant step backward, as it reinforces the notion that physical violence or threats of violence should be kept paramount in the legal definition.” The group argued that rape which occurs as a product of blackmailing or other non-violent threats could well go unprosecuted.

Stefan Simanowitz, the spokesperson for Amnesty International, said in a tweet “Only nine European countries out of 31 recognize sex without consent as rape. It was hoped that Greece would become the 10th…BUT…this week @tsipras_eu’s govt are trying to roll back the definition of rape, potentially easing the punishment for rapists.”

The article has also been denounced by the union of judges and prosecutors, leftist SYRIZA MPs Maria Theleriti and Anneta Kavadia, and the youth wing of the ruling SYRIZA party.

The reformed penal code is currently under discussion in the Greek parliament. It is one of the last outstanding issues to be decided before the parliament dissolves next week before the general elections scheduled for July 7.