Greece Moves to Roll Back Definition of Rape

Greece Plans to Roll Back Definition of Rape

(Bloomberg) -- When is a rape a rape?

Greek women are taking to the streets Wednesday to tackle that question after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government took a step to roll back the definition of rape in the country’s penal code, potentially easing the punishment for rapists.

The bill submitted to parliament by Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou, which is due to be voted on Thursday, fails to honor the Greek state’s commitment at the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention last year to take necessary legislative measures to criminalize any non-consensual sexual acts, its critics say. It also defines rape in terms of the physical threat it may present to a victim’s life rather than putting consent at its core.

The controversial Article 336 has triggered reactions from Amnesty International, the Association of Judges and Prosecutors of Greece and even female lawmakers in Tsipras’s governing party, Maria Theleriti and Anneta Kavadia. The bill provides a wide berth for judicial interpretation, making it possible for some rapes to be treated as misdemeanors and not felonies, and hence punishable by as few as three years in prison.

The proposed legislation as a whole has also drawn criticism from opposition parties, who argue that with national elections on July 7, just about a month away, Tsipras’s government should refrain from rushing such significant legislative changes through parliament.

New Democracy, Movement for Change, the Communist Party of Greece and nationalist Golden Dawn have decided to abstain from the discussion in Greece’s 300-seat chamber, adding to pressure on the minister to withdraw it.

--With assistance from Antonis Galanopoulos.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eleni Chrepa in Athens at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sotiris Nikas at, Vidya Root, Paul Tugwell

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