The last few days, a number of headlines in Swedish newspapers have discussed the large amount of rape cases that go unsolved. One of the reasons for this does not appear to be lack of evidence, but rather the appalling treatment of collected evidence.
Articles provide examples such as that of a 25-year rape victim who went to the police where semen and other evidence were gathered. The man accused of rape denied his involvement. A match in DNA analysis could have closed that case but the police mishandled the case so badly that it resulted in the loss of DNA evidence and dropped charges.
The woman, together with her attorney, filed a claim for compensation arguing that with the DNA the man could have been found guilty. The woman was, however, not given any compensation, form of restitution, or claim of justice.
In other cases, after employing a translator to record a statement from a rape victim, erroneous questioning resulted in the victim’s statement being discarded as evidence. Irresponsible officers also only bagged one knife as evidence, while leaving several others untouched, in a case where a woman was raped at knife-point in an apartment.
In a country that boasts about its progressive laws and successful equality measures it has become blatantly clear that working to combat domestic and sexual violence against women is not prioritized. Not only are the police ruining evidence while failing to properly investigate sexual assault and rape charges but the victims are then tossed aside, receiving no compensation or justice.
Looking at the amount of unsolved rape cases is depressing and horrifying. It is easy to tell victims of rape to go to the police and report their attackers, which of course is incredibly important but at the same time, reporting does in no way ensure that the rapist will be charged with the crime or that the survivor will be treated with respect, which defeats the whole purpose of reporting in the first case.
Law enforcement agencies need to show and prove their commitment to combating violence and sexual assault against women by firstly taking reports and allegations seriously, and then by doing their very best to investigate the claims. When rape cases are dropped due to sloppy police work, the message to the survivors and victims is clear; you are not a priority!