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Editorial: Non but supported articles and topics

De Standaard (Flemisch newspaper) April 2, 2021
Original text in Flemisch by journalist Matthias Verbergt.
Translated by Gino d'Artali

<Imprisonment for rape doubles

The De Croo government approved a tighter penalties for sex crimes. The sexual age of consent remains at 16 for the time being.It was an important spearhead from the start of the government in October: bringing sexual criminal law up to date. Due to the fall of the previous government, the new criminal code had been shelved. Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) extracted the sexual crimes and today the government found an initial agreement on the texts. They still have to go to the Council of State and other advisory bodies, and then parliament. But the principles will probably remain intact.

1. Consent central

For many crimes such as indecent assault, violence or coercion is sometimes a necessary condition. The reform will involve a sexual offense as soon as consent is lacking. There is no consent if the victim is in a vulnerable state as a result of, for example, sleep or alcohol, affecting free will. Consent can still be withdrawn during the sexual act.

2. Strict for Rape
Rape should normally appear before an assize jury. However, the length of such trials means that rape is almost always <corrected>, allowing the maximum prison sentence to be five years - half the normal maximum sentence. That will be doubled to ten years.

<Higher prison sentences are not always the best signal for

New aggravating circumstances are emerging. The penalties in these circumstances , for example, if the victim is young, is threatened or the offender has a position of authority, will also increase, with a maximum sentence of at least five years. The definition of rape is also being changed, so that penetration no longer has to be complete but can also be partial.

3. Voyeurism and incest

A man was recently acquitted for voyeurism because the victims he was spying on were not exposed to their intimate parts.
Exposure is no longer a requirement from now on. Another adjustment is that indecent assault will henceforth becomes a violation of sexual integrity.

Incest and sexual violence by a partner become aggravating circumstances in sexual crimes, the latter 'in order to also explicitly recognize that sexual acts can take place without consent by a partner or ex-partner'. Exactly how much incest increases the punishment remains to be determined.

4. Sexual age of consent

The previous government also approved the reduction of the age of sexual consent from sixteen to fourteen, at least if the partner was not more than five years older. But that cut was no longer approved in parliament and never became law.
The current government has not yet reached an agreement on the adjustment of the age of sexual consent. The issue will be discussed again at a later stage of the legislative process, with input from, among others, the committee of experts guiding the government in the approximation of criminal law.>

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