Rape and sexual offences

During 2019, 23,200 sex offences were reported, of which 8,820 were classified as rape. In the Swedish Crime Survey, 5.6 per cent of the of the respondents stated that they were a victim of sexual offences in 2019. Please note that the statistics here refer to both sexual offences as a broader term, including sexual molestation etc., as well as rape as a specific offence.

Percentage exposed to sexual offences

Self-reported victimisation due to a sexual offence. Percentage. The results regarding victimisation in 2006–2015 have been recalculated as the Swedish Crime Survey was carried out using a different method in this period Source: SCS

Self-reported victimisation due to a sexual offence

In the Swedish Crime Survey (Nationella trygghetsundersökningen - NTU), 5.6 per cent of the population (aged 16–84) state that they were a victim of a sexual offence in 2019. The self-reported victimisation of sexual offences has increased almost every year since 2012, but a decrease has been noted in the past two years.

Sexual offences include, for example, offensive, sexual comments in speech or writing, forced sexual acts or rape. Incidents could have happened at home, at school, at work, on the internet or in another location.

Women (9.4%) state that they were victims of a sexual offence significantly more often than men (1.4%) in 2019. There are large differences between age groups. The proportion for both men and women is greatest in the age group 20–24, where 31.6 percent of women state they were a victim of a sexual offence, and 4.3 percent of men.

Serious sexual offences involving the use of force

Of the population (aged 16–84), 1.0 percent state that they were a victim of a sexual offence involving the use of force in 2019, which is at approximately the same level as 2018 (1.1%).

Serious sexual offences involving the use of force refers to incidents which include someone forcing, or trying to force, the person into a sexual act by threatening, holding onto or hurting the person in some way.

Women (1.7%) state that they were victims significantly more often than men (0.3%) in 2019. There are large differences between age groups. The proportion for both men and women is largest among young people in the 16–24 age bracket, where among women 5.7 percent state they were a victim of sexual offence involving the use of force, and among men the proportion was 0.7 percent.

Serious sexual offences involving the exploitation of a defenceless
condition

Of the population (aged 16–84), 0.6 percent state that they were a victim of a sexual offence involving the exploitation of a defenceless condition in 2019, which is at approximately the same level as 2018 (0.7%).

Serious sexual offences involving the exploitation of a defenceless condition refers to incidents which include sexual abuse while the person was asleep or when the person was in a defenceless state due to intoxication.

Women (1.0%) state that they were victims in 2019 significantly more often than men (0.2%). There are large differences between age groups. The proportion for both men and women is largest among young people in the 16–24 age bracket, where among women 4.5 percent state they were a victim of a sexual offence involving the exploitation of a defenceless condition, and among men the proportion was 0.4 percent.

Concern about rape/sexual assault

The percentage of people who, in 2020, are often concerned about being a victim of rape or another type of sexual assault is 12 percent of the population (aged 16–84), which is at the same level as in 2019 and 2018 and approximately the same level as in 2017 (11%).

It is significantly more common for women (21%) to be concerned about being a victim of rape or another type of sexual assault than men (2%). In terms of age groups, the proportion is highest among women in the 20–24 age group, where 46 percent report this concern. Among men the proportion is highest in the 25–34 age bracket (4%)

Reported sex offences

Number of reported sex offences: all reported offences, of which sexual molestation and rape (including aggravated). Source: Reported offences

Reported offences

In 2019, a total of 23,200 sex offences were reported; this is a 3 per cent increase as compared with 2018.

The number of reported rape offences has increased by 44 per cent over the last ten years (2010-2019). The increase can be partially explained by changes in the legislation, as from 1 July 2013, the sex offence legislation was made tougher; among other things rape was expanded to include cases where the victim reacts passively.

Other, far-reaching changes in the legislation were made on 1 April 2005. This legislation entails, among other things, that certain acts which were previously classified as sexual exploitation are now classified as rape. The effect of the statutory change appeared in the statistics such that the number of reported offences in respect of sexual coercion and exploitation declined in the years immediately following the statutory change while the number of reported rapes increased.

In the Swedish system, individual reports regarding a great number of offences may affect and give rise to variations in the statistic. For instance, when a single case is reported that turns out to involve hundreds or even thousands of instances of offences committed against an individual over the course of many years, every single incident is recorded as an offence in the year it was reported. It is also important to remember that non-reporting is particularly extensive for sex offences and changes in the inclination to report can affect the number of rapes in the statistic.     

International comparisons

There are no international standards for how crime statistics should be produced and presented and this makes international comparisons difficult. Keep in mind that comparisons between countries on the basis of crime statistics require caution since such statistics are produced differently in different countries. Criminal statistics do not provide a simple reflection of the level of crime in a given country. Criminal statistics are influenced by both legal and statistical factors, and by the extent to which crime is reported and registered. These factors can vary from one country to another.                

Cleared rapes

Person-based clearance rate² for rape offences. Source: Processed offences

Processed offences

In 2019, 8,630 rape offences were processed, the same level as the previous year¹. Investigations were commenced for 96 per cent of the processed rape offences, while 4 per cent were dismissed with no investigation. The person-based clearance rate² for rape offences in 2019 was 15 per cent. Person-based clearance means that a person suspected of the offence has been tied to the offence through an indictment, the issuance of a summary sanction order, or the issuance of a waiver of prosecution. 

The conviction rate² was 16 per cent for 2019. Since investigations were commenced for most processed rape offences, the conviction and person-based clearance rates are essentially at the same level.


¹) The statistic for processed offences reports the number of reported offences where the police, public prosecutor, or other investigatory authority has taken a decision regarding the offence.

²) Person-based clearance means that a person suspected of the offence has been tied to the offence through an indictment, the issuance of a summary sanction order, or the issuance of a waiver of prosecution. The person-based clearance rate reports the number of offences with person-based clearances during one year as a percentage of the number of processed offences during the same year. As from 2014, an adjusted person-based clearance rate is reported. The metric is essentially structured in the same way as previously, however, it is calculated based on all processed offences instead of all reported offences. The conviction rate reports the number of person-based clearances during one year as a per cent of all investigated offences, excluding offences with limitations of investigation during the same period.