Politics

Cases of sexual assault and rape have risen in Sweden, global far-right blames refugees

Sweden has suffered a rise in sexual assaults, which has coincided with a rise in immigration, which makes a very easy scapegoat for the Swedish right. What may seem like a simple, but awful, case of integration gone wrong may in fact be a lot more complex. Sweden’s laws relating to sexual assault are far more inclusive than our own, and this may be where the cause lies. Every incident is reported separately- so if a woman goes to the police and says that her husband raped her every day for a year, they have to record 365 incidents of assault. New laws introduced in 2008 also decreed that acts such as non-consensual finger penetration counted as rape, this is not the case in Britain.

Yet to point this out does not completely eradicate the problem: the fact remains that women were attacked at the We Are Sthlm music festival in, text-speech lovers probably guessed, Stockholm, as well as at other times during the last couple of years. Even Germany, which has suffered similar problems in the wake of recent mass immigration, does not have such an extensive history with the subject. Some on the right have put forward various theories as to why the new immigrants might be linked with the wave of assaults, such as Muslim men not caring so much for Swedish women, who are likely to receive support, and to report to incident, as opposed to girls in their home countries who would be shamed by their families in the aftermath. Police in Sweden are hesitant disclose the perpetrators’ races and nationalities, for fear of encouraging “nationalist” elements in Sweden, many have commented that this only exacerbates the issue, and creates a line of rhetoric on the right, that “the government is trying to hide the issue”, and one could sensibly make this accusation. In Sweden, the left is seen as normal and any claims against immigration are seen as supporting the extreme right, much like supporting the BNP in Britain.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said the cover up was a “double betrayal”. The right wing opposition party, the Swedish Democrats, have called the events a “scandal” on behalf of the police and demanded that the police chief resign. However, national police commissioner Dan Eliasson claims that he was unaware of the cover-up and has ensured Swedes that there will be an investigation into the issue. He told reporters that he felt a “very strong anger “ that Sweden’s young women could not attend festivals free from the danger of being assaulted. Swedish daily newspaper “Dagens Nyheter” reported that although an internal police source gave a somewhat understated report on “the problem of young men rubbing themselves up against young girls,” the Stockholm police’s public statement said there had been “relatively few crimes.”

Rape isn’t the only problem in Sweden however, as crime rates in other areas have shot up. In August last year a woman and her son were stabbed to death in an Ikea store by an asylum seeker who wanted revenge for having been denied asylum in the country. In this case the man was a Christian from Eritrea in Africa, this does not fit the narrative of the far-right, that the refugees’ “Islamic values” are to blame.

Swedish society appears to have a problem with discussing the events honestly. It is open to interpretation whether the rapes were over-reported or if the races of the attackers were purposely covered up. Whichever way you look at it, it seems that the country has finally let “political correctness” go too far, this is in reference to the Police’s hesitancy to release details as to the race and nationality of perpetrators. This is an issue relevant to Cardiff, with our Students’ Union accused of being “in the red” when it comes to excessive censorship. It may well be up to us, the students, to ensure that organisations such as the NUS do not compromise free speech and sensible, honest discussion about sensitive issues, like the Swedes have.

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