There's a Reason to Worry About Sweden's Laws on Sexual Assault


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There's a Reason to Worry About Sweden's Laws on Sexual Assault

In Sweden, there's a huge difference between being in an "incapacitated state" and a "particularly vulnerable situation".

All photos by Isabelle Minou.

Last month, six teenage boys were acquitted from gang rape charges against a 15-year-old girl because of a recent rewrite in sexual assault laws. Since the alleged rape had occurred before the rewrite, the Court of Appeal used the dated phrasing as the ruling argument to free the boys–even though all boys admitted having sex with the girl without her obvious consent. Before July 1, 2013, the law said that the victim had to have been in an "incapacitated state" at the time of the assault.


Now, after July 1, 2013, the victim has to be in a "particularly vulnerable situation" at the time of the assault. The point of the rewrite is to make sure that the law isn't misinterpreted so that the victim doesn't have to be knocked out or unconscious at the time of the assault for it be considered as rape. But weirdly, the 15-year-old girl who was locked inside a bedroom at a house party, and allegedly raped several times by the boys (six guys against one girl), was not considered to have been in an "incapacitated state" at the time. The court said that there wasn't enough evidence to prove that the girl was afraid of getting abused in any other way if she had said "no"–which she by the way, insists that she did say.

The court did however admit that there was a reason to believe that the victim had been in a "particularly vulnerable situation", but chose to go with what the law had said at the time of the alleged rape.

Yesterday, the campaign FATTA, which is Swedish for "get it" and organised by non-profit networks Femtastic and Crossing Boarders, hosted an all-day event outside the parliament building in Stockholm as a protest against Sweden's laws on sexual assault.

In an attempt to help the Swedish government to understand that sex should be a matter of mutual consent, FATTA handed over a "loaded weapon of stories and knowledge"–as they called it in a press release–to Sweden's Minister of Justice, Beatrice Ask. But don't worry, the "weapon" was actually a bag filled with 150 personal stories about assaults and violence as well as a video with recordings of political conversations made by FATTA. They also organised tons of emotional talks and entertainment such as music, preformance art and spoken-word poetry.


Although yesterday's six-hour long event got a lot of media coverage, the timing seems to have been a bit odd as it took place on a Monday from 11AM to 5PM. As a result, the turn-up didn't get as big as you'd expect it to be when it comes to such serious matters as laws on sexual assault. However, the people who did turn up, were keen and peaceful supporters of FATTA's movement. In fact, only one grumpy old man was spotted protesting against the event. Luckily he was ignored by the crowd.

If Sweden will make another attempt to rewrite their laws on sexual assault is still yet to be seen. See more of Isabelle's photos on her website.

Follow Caisa on Twitter: @caisasoze More on Sweden and the law:

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