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Rape and sexual offences

Foto: Mads Greve

As few as 10-20 percent of all sex offences are reported to the police. Photo: Mads Greve

In 2012, 16,700 sexual offences were reported. Half of the crimes are classed as sexual molestation or indecent exposure. Reported rapes decreased by 5 percent compared with the previous year.
Over the last decade, the number of reported sexual offences has increased constantly, and the reports of rape have more than doubled. This is likely due to a combination of an actual increase together with a rising trend for reporting the crime. A large portion of the increase has occurred since 2005, when the new sexual offences legislation came into force, which meant that some actions that were previously classed as sexual exploitation are now classed as rape.

The number of reported sexual offences decreased marginally in 2012, compared to the year before. Reported rape fell by 5 percent compared with 2011, to 6,200 reported crimes.

A large number of hidden statistics


As few as 10-20 percent of all sexual offences are reported to the police. The Swedish Crime Survey (Nationella trygghetsundersökningen, NTU) provides a better picture of the extent of criminality, with data on both victims as well as perpetrators — which is lacking in the criminal statistics. Of those who are suspected for sexual offences, the majority are men and only about two percent are women. A majority of the victims are women. In a third of reported rapes, the victim is younger than 15.

Manyfold increase in reported sexual offences


When considering the number of reports, the quantity of sexual offences can be seen to have increased fivefold over a period of thirty years. The number of reports increased across all categories — rape, sexual coercion and exploitation etc, indecent exposure and sexual molestation. There is reason to believe that certain types of sexual offence really have increased, much due to changes in society, such as contact with strangers via the internet, more bars and pubs and increased alcohol consumption. But the increase is mainly due to a general rise in people's tendency to report crime and the changes in legislation that have led to more crimes now being viewed as rape.

In 19 percent of sexual offences, a person can be tied to the crime (2010). In spite of the increase in the number of reports in recent years, sexual offences constitute just one percent of all reported crime. In 2010, more than 1,300 individuals were prosecuted for sexual offences as the principal crime. About 30 percent of them were sentenced to imprisonment. The number of those prosecuted for purchasing sexual services more than tripled from about 100 decisions in 2009 to almost 340 in 2010. The average prison sentence was two years and four months for rape and five years and ten months for aggravated rape.

Reported sex offences in Sweden for the last ten years

The purchasing of sexual services is illegal in Sweden, and this accounts for much of the increase.

Facts

  • 16,700 sexual offences reported to the police (2010)
  • 98 percent of those suspected of sexual offences are men (2010)
  • 26 percent of sexual offenses occur in the home of the victim or perpetrator (2008)
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