Swedish Law Redefines Rape as 'Sex Without Consent'

A new law redefining sexual relations without consent as rape comes into effect in Sweden on Sunday, after the country was rocked by the #MeToo movement denouncing sexual harassment and assault.

Backed by the ruling Social Democrat-Green coalition, the law stipulates that a person has committed rape if they have been part of a sexual act in which the other person has not participated "freely." It is further detailed that consent has to be expressed with "clear words or actions."

Rape had previously been defined as a sexual act carried out with the use of violence or threat.

Now for someone to face rape charges, "it is no longer necessary that violence or threats were applied or that the aggressor took advantage of the victim's particularly vulnerable situation," according to the government.

Courts will need to pay special attention to whether consent was expressed with words, gestures or in any other manner, and judges will have to rule on the issue, according to the law passed in May.

Judge Anna Hannell, who helped create the law, said there was "absolutely no requirement to formally say 'Yes', to hit a button in an app or anything else of the same type. Simply participating physically is a sign of consent," she told Swedish news agency TT.

"#MeToo showed, with force, that a lot still needs to be done to fight sexual harassment and sexual violence at work and in the rest of society," Gender Equality Minister Lena Hallengren said in a statement Sunday. She added that the government will allocate US$13.5 million to combat sexual abuse.

The #MeToo campaign, which began with the series of sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, has shaken up nearly every sector in Sweden.

More than 10,000 women in Sweden — including actresses, journalists, lawyers, musicians, doctors and construction workers — have spoken up and campaigned against harassment.

"#MeToo is changing behaviors and people now understand the extent to which sexual violence is widespread," Ida Ostensson of the Make Equal foundation, a key campaigner for the new law, said. "We finally have legislation that protects physical and sexual integrity."

Before the #MeToo campaign, women's rights groups in Sweden had already been fighting for an update to the definition of rape that would, not just be based on violence, but also the lack of consent, so victims could file their complaints more easily.

In May, the Swedish Academy announced there would be no Nobel Literature Prize, this year, following a major sexual assault scandal.

The announcement came after Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, in November, published the testimonies of some 18 women claiming to have been raped, sexually assaulted or harassed by Jean-Claude Arnault, an influential cultural figure with long-standing ties to the Academy, who has since been charged with two counts of rape.

The scandal caused deep discord among the institution's 18 members, prompting six to resign.

"It's important that society clearly states what is OK and what isn't," Erik Moberg, a Swede in his thirties, told AFP. "It makes you think about your own behavior and that of others."

  • Published in World

More Than 40,000 Women Candidates in Mexican Elections

More than 40,000 women appear today as candidates for the July 1 elections in Mexico, and they did not escape from the violence which accompanied the electoral process.

A political-electoral reform in 2015 led to gender parity in the nominations of political parties, but it is in these elections that it is applied more rigorously.

Therefore, for the first time, 40,162 women will be candidates for different federal and state positions, which announces that women could have a greater political and state presence.

Only one woman currently holds the position of governor, out of 32; in the Chamber of Representatives that was dismissed, they reached 42 percent and 25 percent in the Senate.

In the country's 2,68 municipalities, there are barely 339 women mayors, and in the state of Campeche all the municipalities are taken over by men.

Mexican women politicians are also the target of organized crime groups, who are credited with the majority of the 133 murders that marked the election campaign.

17 women candidates have been executed since September, and the Simone de Beauvior Leadership Institute (ILSB) has recorded 49 cases of gender-based political violence.

However, the Special Prosecutor's Office for Electoral Offences (FEPADE) has dealt with barely less than a dozen investigation files in this regard.

From 2012 to August 2017, Fepade recorded 187 cases of political aggression against women.

  • Published in World

Panamanian President Condemns U.S. Sanctions against Cuba

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela today repeated his country''s condemnation of the sanctions imposed by the United States against Cuba, when commenting Washington''s policy of restrictions against the Caribbean island and Russia.

Varela favored a solution to disputes through dialogue when answering a question from Prensa Latina on the obstacles created by the administration of President Donald Trump to world trade and its sanctions against Cuba and Russia.

More than half a century of the U.S. political, economic and commercial blockade on Cuba and the White House's sanctions against Russia do not help at all to eliminate the trade barriers and borders that Varela defended in his speech.

'The matter is not to exert more pressure, but, on the contrary, to seek consensus and dialogue' in international relations, noted the head of State.

In that regard, he mentioned the recent meeting in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and the maximum leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong-un.

The Panamanian president showed at the Russian Chamber of Commerce the advantages of his country, which had a population of four million, a gross domestic product (GDP) of some 50 billion dollars and a growth of more than 6 percent in 2017.

In response to Prensa Latina, Varela noted that he was faithful to his conviction that dialogue is the way to iron out differences. He highlighted the positive relations between Cuba and Panama, which is a member of the Pacific Alliance, along with other Latin American countries.

We try to take advantage from dialogue, said the president of Panama, a country that, along with the members of the Pacific Alliance, demands internal changes in Venezuela, which considers that stance a clear case of interference in its internal affairs.

Varela recalled that Panama invited Cuba to the Summit of the Americas and welcomed the changes that have been made in the island's economy over the past few years.

In his speech at the Chamber of Commerce, Varela defended his country's stance as an international platform to reach Latin America, specifically for Russia.

We have connections with more than 70 destinations in some 35 countries, 5 percent of the world's port activity and a comfortable and advantageous system to register big companies in our territory, said Varela, who met with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

The Panamanian statesman noted the signing of an agreement on security to train police officers at the academy of the Russian Ministry of the Interior.

We have problems with drug trafficking and not precisely with conflicts, because Latin America is a zone of peace, he commented.

Varela will meet with executives of the airline Aeroflot today and he will travel to Sochi tomorrow for the game between Panama and Belgium, as part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup being held in 12 stadiums in 11 Russian cities until July 15.

  • Published in Cuba

Trinidad, Safe Candidate for World Crafts City in Cuba

Recognized for its ancestral practices with ceramics, fraying and embroidery, the third Cuban village is receiving today a visit from representatives of the World Crafts Council (WCC) for its evaluation as the World Crafts City.

The experts' itinerary of the institution associated with UNESCO includes, among other stops, the Santander family's workshop, linked for generations to the work of pottery, as well as the painter Yudit Vidal Faife's gallery, recognized for her work with craftswomen embroiderers.

Silvia Orellana, promoter of the Cuban Cultural Heritage Fund (FCBC), explained to Prensa Latina the tour also includes handicraft plazas such as Manaca Iznaga, a town located in the Valle de los Ingenios( Mill Valley), included next to the city on UNESCO's Cultural Heritage list.

Pena Street, place where local handicrafts are exhibited and sold, and the space of the artist Mery Viciedo also appear on the WCC route, the specialist said.

Viciedo also appears on the WCC route, the specialist remarked.

The proposal and evaluation of the southern city as a Craft City of the World pursues the promotion of local innovation, creative tourism as well as the creation of new opportunities for association and cooperation between craftsmen.

This visit to the third village founded by the Spaniards in Cuba is part of the program of the seventh meeting of the Intergovernmental Council for Crafts, headquartered in Havana since 30 May.

According to press reports, during these days, the WCC Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean and Director of Crafts of the FCBC, Mercy Correa highlighted the potential of Trinidad in safeguarding these traditions.

'The nomination of the village is due to the work of conservation of the artisan manifestations that involve several generations and are part of everyday life', Correa said.

In this regard, Correa stressed in a press conference the importance of the event, which for the first time Cuba is participating actively as well as assuming the role of hostess.

  • Published in Cuba
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