Kirstine’s story: “Give us respect and justice!”

Kirstine is determined to bring about changes to rape law and improve access to justice for rape survivors in Denmark. She knows what it’s like to come up against a justice system that is systemically set against someone who reports rape from the start.

“I will do everything in my power to use my own story to knock down walls so that in the future far fewer people find themselves in a situation where after having been through a terrible assault they also have to deal with a sceptical and unprepared reporting system, a judiciary based on ancient principles… and an outside world that just wants you to stay silent, put your head down and accept that the system violates and fails those that it is required to protect.”

The 39 year old journalist, communications adviser and activist reported a rape in 2017. The man accused was acquitted following a trial because rape could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

“I said ‘no’ many times, ‘stop’, ‘leave me alone’… It should be enough for me to say ‘no’. I should not have to fight him.”

But the law in Denmark does not define rape based on the absence of consent; rather it bases its definition on other factors, such as whether physical violence or the threat of force was used, if there was coercion, or if the victim was unable to resist.

Kirstine was asked by the police and in court whether she had resisted. Crucially, the justice officials focused their questions on seeking physical evidence that she had fought. They seemed less interested in whether she had said yes.

“I was never asked if I consented. Of course I didn’t.”