*Pictures from Alexia “Tsouni
[Athens 08 June 2019] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and the Coordination of Greek Women’s NGOs for the EWL express their satisfaction about the historical decision made by the Greek Government to modify the penal code to introduce a consent-based definition of rape.
“This a landmark decision that will help to protect and give access to justice and reparation to women and girls in Greece. The government proposal responds to the longstanding demand and lobbying actions of the EWL Greek Coordination and other Greek human rights’ NGOs”, says Efthymia Ioannidou, EWL Board member and President of the Coordination of Greek Women’s NGOs. “The right to say “no” will now be protected by law. This represents a historical success of the feminist movement in Greece”.
The modification of article 336 of the Greek penal code means that a sexual act without consent will be considered a crime, with imprisonment of up to 10 years. The definition of rape in Greece will now meet the standards of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention, that was ratified by Greece in June 2018. The Istanbul Convention states clearly that a non-consensual act of sexual nature is violence and should be criminalised; and that the lack of consent, and not the use of force, is the constituent element of the crime (Article 36).
Gwendoline Lefebvre, President of the European Women’s Lobby, congratulates the Greek women’s movement and organisations on their success and calls on all European states and the European Union to swiftly ratify and implement the provisions of the Istanbul Convention to prevent and combat rape and sexual violence. “Sexual violence against women and girls and specially rape continues to be one of the most devastating forms of women’s rights violation in Europe. This is a universal human rights and political issue and our governments are responsible to act. Women and girls across Europe have the right to live a life free from all forms of violence, sexual abuse and the fear of it”.
In the European Union, one in three women report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, and one in ten report having experienced some form of sexual violence. Only a small number of these cases are reported in the EU, where 85% of the most serious incidents of sexual violence do not come to the attention of the police.
The EWL and the EWL Coordination of Greek Women’s NGOs call the members of the Greek Parliament to provide their unanimous support to this historical proposal to ensure that women and girls in Greece are protected against rape. Furthermore, adequate implementation of the legislation should be ensured to provide access to justice to victims and to end impunity of perpetrators. Adequate and specialised support programmes and services need to be set up to ensure that survivors of rape have access to services facilitating their recovery from violence, including legal and psychological counselling, financial assistance, assistance and support in their workplace, etc.