[ View the story "Sweden's consent debate" on Storify] Sweden's consent debate The Stream examines the issue of consent and its role in dealing with sexual assault.
The Stream· Tue, Jan 28 2014 10:51:19
In Sweden, calls for creating a sexual consent law are growing after a number of
controversial rape cases. The debate for rape law reform especially gained momentum following the case of an alleged rapist acquitted by a Swedish court. In the case, a 27-year-old man said the woman's screams in protest were " part of a violent sex game". The man admitted to covering the alleged victim's mouth with his hand.
Ralf G. Larsson's decision sparked outcry online. The reasoning behind the court's ruling was similar to other cases in which the alleged rapist did not claim intent and was unaware of acting against the alleged victim's wishes. : It’s really about whether a rape has happened, not whether he understood it or not. What is wrong?
Outraged Swedes took to the street to protest the decision. A number of women's rights groups initiated
or 'consent' rallies to demand the integration of consent into Swedish legislation:
Shame on #Sweden and its primitive #rape laws. Amend now to catch up with the int'l legal consensus on the key element of consent. #samtyckeMorgan Finnsiö
#consent #rapeculture #feminist #feminism #antisexism #antirape #consentissexyAoife
Following the protest that revived the sexual consent law debate, Beatrice Ask, Svedens Minister of Justice from the Moderate Party,
today that the government will appoint a parliamentary committee to review the sexual offenses. The Social Democrats, Sveden's main opposition party also recently agreed to reconsider sexual consent law.
Sweden has the
rate of reported rapes in Europe, yet it remains unclear whether that is a result of more rape cases or if Swedes are more likely to report rape. A report by
notes a considerable imbalance in Sweden's number of reported rapes and its low conviction rate. In an interview with
TT news agency
, Social Democrat Morgan Johansson sees Sweden's low conviction rate as a reason to change the law:
"It makes it clear that the justice system doesn't work the way citizens should be able to expect."thelocal.se
Supporters of the current legislation argued that a rape law reform will not lead to more convictions:
@AJStream Dont think so. Murder and robbery would have ceased on earth as a whole, if tougher laws worked.Michael Ojalatan
@AJStream I doubt, irrespective of how clear the definition could be, sexual consent would be misjudged be in most cases #Sweden #NoItWontMr chiwizi
Some also feared harsher legislation would send innocent people to jail.
@Ramisms @AJStream Of course it will. Sven meets Marie, Sven and Marie have sex, Sven doesn't call Marie. Marie gets mad and cries rape.WmSan
Sexual interaction is very subtle. Any top down law will either backfire against men or women. Making it strict will put more innocent guys in jail. Making it lose will put more females in danger of rape. There is no happy medium.Ahmet Duran
And if both are drunk, who is guilty? Who is the rapist, the man or the woman? I will tell you, the man, because for the new feminazis men are evil.Luis Jesús Gómez Saiz
One netizen also pointed out that the media tends to side with the alleged victim.
@erlhel: "Funny how this press campaign can provide us with the appropriate rape convictions to discuss every day"
Lustigt hur den här presskampanjen kan förse oss med lämpliga våldtäktsdomar att diskutera varje dag. #samtyckeErling Hellenäs
On Twitter, the practicality of a consent law was doubted.
Carry a signed consent form???Carmie Belardi Arnoldt
: " How should consent be documented? A contract? What happens in the case that one party changes his or her mind in the meantime?"
@HarneskL @talgboll Hur ska samtycket dokumenteras? Kontrakt? Vad händer isf om ena parten ändrar sig under tiden? #samtyckeÅklagaren
Finally, some argued that changing the law does not address the problem and that education is a more effective measure in combating rape:
@AJStream The issue should be "Prevention" of rape and not more convictions.Behnam
@AJStream Having tougher #laws in #Sweden won't change much as long as we don't change our own attitudes towards #rapevictims as a society!Neslihan Kurosawa
Educating about sexuality differences between males and females is one of many ways to help preventing or reducing the number of rapes. Within teaching about sexuality, the definition of rape should be discussed more and more among males, females, and in a group of mixed males and females. Drawing a line about what is a sex with consent, and what is not a sex with consent or rape is necessary for any society.Citizen Millennium