While you are living in a foreign culture, you may find that attitudes towards sex and relationships differ from your own culture. Therefore, whether you are sexually active or not, it is important to reflect upon your own sexual health and behavior before departing for your semester abroad. While you are abroad, being conscious of the cultural differences and taking proactive safety steps will be of the utmost importance.
Before traveling abroad, be sure to protect your own health as well as others by visiting your doctor, scheduling a sexual health check-up, and filling necessary contraceptive prescriptions. Read more about the rules of taking medicine to Denmark.
Denmark is a sex positive culture. Danes generally have a more liberal attitude toward sex than many cultures (including the U.S.) where sex is thought of as ‘taboo.’
In Denmark, sexual exploration is generally seen simply as part of growing up and finding one’s way to adulthood, and might not hold the same connotations as it would in other cultures, including the U.S. The ministry of education dedicates a week each year where all school children participate in age-appropriate sex education.
Danish teenagers commonly have their boyfriend or girlfriend sleep over with the approval of their parents. DIS students are commonly surprised when their host sibling’s boyfriend or girlfriend joins the family for breakfast in the morning after sleeping over, or when their college-aged peers discuss sex very openly. In adulthood, it is common for romantic couples to live together, and have children, without being married.
The concept of consent is also different in Denmark. In the U.S., college students learn that consent means a very clear, enthusiastic ‘yes.’ In Denmark, consent is commonly implied when you agree to go home with someone and engage in an act of sexual nature. While you can, of course, say no at any point in a sexual encounter, most Danish young people would find it strange to bring home someone they have just met at a bar who doesn’t intend to have sex. Further, Danish law allows someone under the influence of alcohol to give their full consent unless they are totally incapacitated (e.g. passed out or date rape drugged). Both Danish law and DIS do, however, take sexual violence very seriously and support is available to victims/survivors.
DIS recommends that students utilize a few simple safety measures while in Copenhagen, on study tour, and while on personal travel in Europe. These tips are provided for proactive purposes only, and it is DIS policy that the victim/survivor never be blamed for their choices or actions surrounding sexual violence. No matter the circumstance, perpetrators are to blame for sexual violence and it is never the victim/survivor’s fault.
- Review the tips for staying safe in Copenhagen
- Don’t go out alone. Pairs or small groups can watch out for one another
- Monitor your consumption of alcohol and don’t drink so much that your judgment is compromised
- Before going out, know how you will get home
- Travel home with your friends when possible, and don’t leave a friend behind
- Watch your drink and don’t accept a drink from a stranger. If someone wants to buy you a drink, take it directly from the bartender
- If you see a friend in a compromising situation, help them if you can do so safely, or ask for assistance from a bartender or the police. Learn more about bystander intervention in this video
- If you do go home with someone, have an open and direct discussion about your intentions and limits. Ask about their intentions and limits
Sexual Health Resources in Copenhagen
Though DIS recommends that you travel with your contraception from home, if you need to discuss a contraception option, contact your General Practitioner assigned to you through your CPR card. Read more here about how to set up an appointment.
All DIS students have access to free condoms at the DIS Copenhagen Front Desk, located in Vestergade 7. Additionally, condoms are sold at all convenience and grocery stores. The ‘Morning After Pill’ and pregnancy tests are available at pharmacies. These items are frequently behind the counter, but do not be embarrassed to ask for them!
Danes generally have a relaxed view regarding Sexually Transited Infections (STIs) and Diseases (STDs). They are seen as treatable conditions, and are generally not seen as shameful. To get tested and explore treatment options:
- Visit one of the following clinics:
DIS takes the issue of sexual misconduct very seriously. Sexual harassment, stalking, sexual assault and relationship violence are not tolerated and are a violation of the DIS Student Code of Responsibility. Students violating local laws will face the local consequences and neither DIS nor the U.S. Embassy can interfere with legal proceedings or obtain release from jail. DIS will report any incidents of sexual misconduct to the student’s home school that will handle the report per their own policies under Title IX and other relevant laws.