Iceland redefines rape as sexual contact without consent

On 3/23/18, the Icelandic parliament approved a bill changing the legal definition of rape. Previously, rape was defined based solely on the methods used to obtain sex: violence, intimidation, or other forms of unlawful compulsion. The new definition instead focuses on consent:

Anyone who has sexual intercourse or other sexual contact with a person without their consent becomes guilty of rape and shall be imprisoned for not less than 1 year and up to 16 years. Consent is considered valid if it is voluntarily expressed. Consent is deemed not to be valid if it is caused by violence, intimidation, or other forms of unlawful compulsion, or by using deception or exploiting a person's error about the situation. Violence includes deprivation of autonomy by confinement, medication or other similar means.

(Translation from the original Icelandic courtesy of Google Translate with some help from an article in Iceland Review.)

The bill includes a long discussion section explaining its rationale. Under the previous definition, conviction was heavily based on what the victim did or didn't do, rather than on what the perpetrator did or didn't do. Despite the "intimidation" clause, it was difficult to prove rape if the victim was too scared to say No, and didn't actively resist the rapist.

The discussion section makes it clear that consent doesn't require notarized legal contracts in duplicate:

...consent ... must be expressed with words or other unambiguous expressions. This means that consent is required or that active participation in a particular act is interpreted as consent by another participant. ...

It is not desirable to define too precisely how the consent should be expressed. There is a danger that legislation that sets the precise conditions for how individuals should express themselves does not correspond to how human relations are actually. ...

The vote was 48 in favor, 1 abstention, and 14 absent.