Sexual Offences Bill amended to better protect victims

The Sexual Offences Bill is being amended to better protect the victims of serious sexual crimes. The special statute of limitations for sexual offences will be extended so that rape is no longer time-barred and victims can report it even after a long time has passed since the incident. Also, in future, victims of all forms of rape will be able to claim compensation from the Violent Offences Compensation Fund (Schadefonds Geweldsmisdrijven). Today, Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius (Justice and Security) presented a memorandum of amendment to the Bill to the House of Representatives. A ban on child-like sex dolls under criminal law will also be added to the Bill. These amendments are in line with the suggestions offered by victims of sexual crimes with whom Yeşilgöz-Zegerius has had discussions as well as with requests made by various parties in the House of Representatives.

‘Sexual violence and transgressive behaviour are unacceptable and must be stopped. This calls for a broad social offensive. Prosecution under criminal law is an essential final step in this broad approach. Victims of sexual violence will be better protected with an additional amendment to the law. I think it is important that victims should be allowed ample time to report the crime. Time pressure should not be a factor in this’,

Minister Yeşilgöz-Zegerius said.

Period of limitation

A long period of time may elapse before victims of sexual violence come forward and feel capable of reporting the crime. However, even after this passage of time, both society and the victim may still feel a strong need to prosecute and punish the offender. This has been pointed out by several parties in the House of Representatives. Therefore, the special statute of limitations for sexual offences will be extended so that negligent rape and intentional rape are no longer time-barred. For serious sexual crimes against children, a modified statute of limitations was already included in the Bill, under which these crimes are also not time-barred.

Compensation fund

Both negligent rape and intentional rape can lead to long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for victims. The Violent Offences Compensation Fund is intended to provide a low-threshold access to financial compensation in the most distressing cases, as a way of acknowledging the suffering inflicted on a victim. To enable all rape victims to qualify for such a compensation, negligent rape will be brought with the purview of the Violent Offences Compensation Fund Act (Wet schadefonds geweldsmisdrijven).

Ban on child-like sex dolls under criminal law

The possession and distribution of child-like sex dolls will be made punishable. The sex characteristics of such dolls portray children as sexual objects and may give the impression that it is normal to engage in sexual acts with children. While the fact is that it is essential to prevent the sexualisation of children. The criminalisation of these objects ensures that child-like sex dolls can be confiscated and destroyed, and criminal action can be taken against perpetrators.

Sexual Offences Bill

Last October, the Sexual Offences Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives. This Bill aims to modernise the criminal legislation on sexually transgressive behaviour as this has become obsolete and falls short in various respects. Therefore, this legislation will be fundamentally revised. The Bill introduces various new offences relating to sexual assault and rape, making these punishable behaviour. For example, a sexual encounter with a person that you know or can reasonably be expected to know is unwilling will be made punishable as a form of sexual assault or rape. Sexual harassment in public (offline and online) will also be liable to punishment.

The House of Representatives has submitted written questions regarding this Bill. The answers to these questions will be presented to the House of Representatives today. The next step in the legislative process is the oral consideration of the Bill by the House of Representatives. The aim is to bring the new law into effect in 2024. Until then, it is important to carefully carry out the preparatory process with all the parties involved to ensure an effective implementation. The implementation of the law is being prepared in cooperation with relevant organisations such as the police, Public Prosecution Service and victim support services as well as the staff members of the criminal justice system.