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Japan lawmakers approve changes to century-old rape law

[JURIST] Japan's lower legislative house [official website] approved changes to Japan's century-old rape laws on Thursday that would expand the definition of rape, lengthen prison sentences to five years and allow prosecutions to occur in instances where a victim did not press charges. The amendments would redefine [Reuters report] rape to include more forms of forced sexual penetration, which would acknowledge male victims. The amendment would also eliminate the requirement for "violence or intimidation" in cases where parents or guardians were sexually abusing minors. The amendments were proposed due to lobbying by victims' rights advocates. According to a 2014 study, only five percent of Japanese female victims went to the police following a rape and only one-third told anyone because of societal pressure. The amendments must now be sent [official website] to the House of Councillors (upper house) in the next step of the legislative process.

Rape and other sex crimes are frequent issues in the international legal community and have made headlines several times within the past month. In May Australia announced [JURIST report] plans to decrease child sex trafficking by prohibiting registered sex offenders from traveling overseas. The same day, the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that the federal age of consent was 16. Also in May Sweden dropped [JURIST report] Julian Assange's rape investigation. Earlier that month, India's Supreme Court upheld [JURIST report] the death penalty in the case of a gang rape which led to the victim's death.

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