Content Notice: This piece discusses sexual assault and violence.
The past weeks news and headlines has us tired and upset. We have been constantly reading about Swedish lawmakers disappointing responses to the suffering and harms of women. Sweden often prides itself in being one of the top countries in the world when it comes to equality between men and women. Still, lawmakers seem to be doing very little to protect women and their rights. Last week we blogged about a story reporting on a man who forcefully inserted two fingers into his girlfriend to check for evidence of her cheating, but was not sentenced for rape. According to the court, the crime was not “sexual enough” to be considered rape.
This week is however not proving much better. Just the other day we read an article in our local newspaper that discussed the murder of a woman by her former boyfriend. The woman and man had previously been in a relationship in which he physically abused her and she reported the abuse to the police. The woman thereafter filed for a restraining order since she was afraid that the man would contact, visit, or abuse her further. However, she was never granted a restraining order and only a few months after the request, he took her life by shooting her in the face and back.
A second article this week reported on how a teacher, who was convicted of having sex with a minor, got his sentenced lowered because the court did not find it plausible that the man did in fact know that the girl was younger than 15-years old at the time that he sexually took advantage of her. Because the 14-years old girl and the man decided to meet, the court stated that the girl willingly engaged in sexual activity with the man, thereby ignoring the age limit that is set to prevent sexual abuse of minors (which in Sweden is 15 years of age).
The sentence was changed from rape of a minor to sexual abuse of a minor and the man also got a lowered sentence because he lost his employment as a teacher and therefore would be unable to teach in the future. The court is thereby sympathizing with the man while completely showing disregard for the young girl.
Thirdly, a recent article discussed how the police arrested a man for buying sex from a prostitute in Stockholm. The man arrested admitted to the crime and also told police officers that he worked as a prosecutor. In fact, he was the prosecutor the police was supposed to report the case to. This is not the first time that a prosecutor has been arrested for this type of crime and we can only wonder how this affects the cases that they are working on.
In cases where men get there sentences lowered or women’s voices are ignored, we wonder whether it is the justice system that is inherently biased or the people operating in it. We believe it is a combination of both, and as much as we hope for a more equal, less biased and less sexist system, it seems difficult to influence the beliefs about women and men held by authorities even though their biases directly affect other people.