The Concept of Sexual Violence (Rape) According to the Istanbul Convention

Nataša Mrvić Petrović ORCID logo

Published on 17 August 2022

ABSTRACT: The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (CETS210; Istanbul Convention) from 2011 stipulated the obligation of the signatory state to count, as an action of sexual violence – including rape – any sexual intercourse or other sexual activity that a woman does not consent to, as well as persuading a woman to voluntarily participate in sex acts with a third party. The aim of the paper is to explain the pros and cons of the new concept of sexual violence (the consent model) in relation to the traditional model of coercion retained in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia. Critical analysis shows that the consent model is more modern and psychologically adequate than the traditional coercion model, but that it is difficult to enforce in practice because it focuses on examining the voluntary decision-making of the victim regarding the sexual activity. It can be expected that the difficulties that normally accompany the proving of sex crimes will be increased. With examples from foreign legislation, the author illustrates possible approaches to the implementation of the Convention and changes in practice. In order to implement the Convention and the EU Directive concerning violence against women whose adoption is expected, it will be necessary to consistently apply the concept of consent when prescribing acts of committing crimes of rape, bearing in mind that changing the legislation is just one of the of state obligations aimed at improving the position of women in society.

KEY WORDS: Istanbul Convention, consent model, sexual violence, violence against women.