Swiss Women Protest After Convicted Rapist’s Prison Time Gets Reduced Because Of 11-Minute Assault
Protestors took to the streets in Switzerland after a court reduced the prison time of a convicted rapist.
The 33-year-old Portuguese man was originally sentenced to four years and three months in prison after being convicted of raping a woman in her apartment in Basel, northwest Switzerland, along with his 17-year-old companion after the woman went to a nightclub in February 2020.
Following the initial sentencing, Court President Liselotte Henz made the decision to reduce the man’s sentence to three years, half of which is said to be ‘conditional’.
According to Swiss media site 20 Minuten, Henz justified her decision by claiming the woman ‘played with fire’ and sent out ‘signals to men’; claims which apparently were made in reference to the woman reportedly having a romantic encounter with another man in the nightclub prior to the assault.
Henz also claimed the attack, which is said to have lasted 11 minutes, was ‘relatively brief’ and noted the woman did not suffer permanent physical injuries. She went on to say the perpetrator was at ‘medium’ fault for the incident.
The judge’s decision has been widely condemned, with protestors gathering outside the Swiss Appeals Court in Basel with signs bearing phrases such as ’11 minutes are 11 minutes too many!’, Insider reports.
Footage shared online also shows protestors holding a sign which reads ‘Only yes means yes’, with a person who appeared to take part in the protest writing on Twitter that people gathered ‘in support of the victim who got blamed for what a rapist has done to her & every victim who never got justice.’
A statement released by Frauenstreik Basel, a feminist organisation in Basel, argued the judgement ‘suggests that the person affected bears joint responsibility for the behaviour of the perpetrators’, adding: ‘We criticise this in the strongest possible terms.’
The statement continued: ‘The decision to use violence against a person’s will always rests with the perpetrator alone. The sexual self-determination, the appearance or the clothing of a person is never an invitation to do (sexualised) violence to this person and must never excuse this.’
Frauenstreik Basel went on to describe the notion of reducing the sentence based on the duration of the attack as ‘absolutely reprehensible’, claiming Henz’s comments about her decision ‘make herself an ally of the perpetrators and abuse her position of power.’
The victim’s lawyer is said to have called the sentence reduction ‘disappointing and incomprehensible’, adding: ‘A no is a no and must be accepted – regardless of the victim’s lifestyle.’
The 17-year-old who was involved in the attack is still awaiting judgment on the case from the Juvenile Court.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.
Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on their website or on their free helpline 0808 800 5005, open 9am–5pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 8am–8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10am–2pm Saturdays.
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