The government will send into public procedure law amendments introducing stricter penalties for domestic violence and violence against women, including the qualification of sexual intercourse without consent as rape, which will be punishable with three to ten years' imprisonment, Justice Minister Drazen Bosnjakovic said on Wednesday.
He was speaking to the press after representatives of organisations and institutions protecting domestic violence victims met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.
Bosnjakovic said the amendments would be put up for public consultation soon and then to government and parliament. "They are envisaged to enter into force on January 1 next year."
Three laws will be amended - the Penal Code, the Protection from Domestic Violence Act and the Criminal Procedure Act.
We are increasing the severity of the penal policy for crimes related to domestic violence because we have made penalties stricter, and we also want to deter potential perpetrators, the minister said.
Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act envisage solutions aimed at stepping up the procedure and preventing it from taking too long and being obstructed, he added.
He highlighted the "redesign of the crime of rape", saying that until now this qualification required the use of force and there was a separate crime - sexual intercourse without consent. He said the amendments qualified the latter crime as rape and stipulated stricter penalties.
Bosnjakovic said all proposals and remarks made during the public consultation would be analysed for inclusion in the amendments.
Legislator clearly saying this behaviour will no longer be tolerated
Maja Maula of the Women's Room said the qualification of sexual intercourse without consent as rape and imprisonment of three to ten years for rape were very significant changes for all those who worked with sexual violence survivors whereby the legislator was clearly saying that this behaviour would no longer be tolerated.
She said the crime of sexual intercourse without consent had been problematic, notably with regard to rape committed in marriage.
Nova Tolle of the Autonomous Women's House Zagreb said the amendments achieved a lot, improving the Penal Code, but that she was not too happy with the Protection from Domestic Violence Act and that she expected more significant changes during the next step they agreed today.
Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy Minister Vesna Bedekovic said a road map had been made for establishing safe houses in the six counties without any.