Catherine Edwards, The Local, January 9, 2018
Sweden’s government has ordered the country’s National Council on Crime Prevention (Brå) to look into why the number of reported rapes in the country has increased.
The agency has the task of finding out whether the increase related to specific types of sexual offences, certain situations, or certain groups of perpetrators, though exactly how it measures these factors will be up to Brå.
In some cases, this could be due to the way in which sexual crimes are reported in Sweden or an increase in awareness about this kind of crime meaning more victims feel able to come forward.
However, it is unlikely that this is the full explanation for the rise, since the past four years have also seen an overall increase in exposure to sexual offences, according to the Swedish Crime Survey, also carried out by Brå. This report is based on survey answers rather than police reports, and aims to give a more complete picture of the victimization rate.
As The Local reported at the time, the 2017 survey published in November showed that the proportion of the population who had been victims of what is classed as ‘crime against an individual’ – assault, threats, mugging, fraud, harassment, or sexual assault – was at its highest level since records began in 2006.
The most significant rise was reported in instances of sexual offences, with the victimization rate for such crimes going from 0.8 to 2.4 percent between 2012 and 2016. That equates to around 181,000 people, an all-time high. Among women, the rate is even higher, at 4.1 percent.
In this survey, sexual offences covered a wide range of crimes from exhibitionism to assault.
At the time, Åsa Strid from Brå told The Local: “These results raise a number of questions about why so many more people are reporting that they have experienced sexual offences.”
The government has now called on Brå to estimate “to the greatest extent possible” how the victimization rate has developed.
This will include analysis of whether certain types of sexual crime are behind the rise, and whether the rise relates to a particular group of perpetrators.
It is not clear whether this would include an investigation of the ethnicity of perpetrators of sexual crimes, something which Sweden’s Moderate Party has called for.
Brå’s press secretary, Monica Landergård, told the TT news agency: “The assignment has just arrived, so we are working on it and will see who will carry out the work, so it’s much too early to say.”