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Sweden wrestles with legality of underage sex

TT/The Local/dl · 29 Aug 2011, 17:25

Published: 29 Aug 2011 17:25 GMT+02:00

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Six years ago, Sweden tightened its child sex laws, criminalising sex involving anyone under the age of 15.

According to Swedish law, the age of consent is 15 and anyone who has sex with someone younger than 15-years-old can be charged with sexual exploitation of a child, or, in more serious cases, child rape.

As a result, even consensual sex between two young teenagers can result in one of the youngsters facing criminal charges

In late July, a 15-year-old boy was convicted for having sex with his 13-year-old girlfriend.

While the boy was acquitted by the district court, an appeals court convicted him of sexually exploiting a child.

While the court expressed little doubt that the young couple had engaged in consensual sex, it ruled that someone under the age of 15 isn't “mature enough to take a more qualified view toward sexual acts”.

Nor did the court believe that the 18-month age difference between the two was insignificant, deciding to sentence the 15-year-old to youth community service and ordering him to pay 15,000 kronor ($2,400) in compensation to the girl.

According to a review carried out by the TT news agency of similar cases involving young teens who have been taken to court for engaging in underage sex, the gender of the alleged offender seems to play a role in how courts treat such cases.

“The propensity to think that an attack has taken place is probably greater when it's the guy that is older,” Petter Asp, a professor of criminal law at Stockholm University, told TT.

“One explanation can be that it conforms more closely to our image of men's and women's sexuality and our expectations of how a sex crime should look.”

In another case, a 15-year-old girl who had sex with two 13-year-old boys was aquitted of all charges after the court ruled that the younger boys actually used the girl to lose their virginity.

In another instance, a girl who was charged with rape for having sex with a boy who was under 15 and several years younger than the girl, was acquitted despite reports that she had coerced the boy to have sex with her.

According to Asp, Sweden's statutes suffer from certain lack of clarity.

Story continues below…

“On the one hand, people under the age of 15 aren't supposed to be able to consent to sex. On the other hand, there remains room for taking into account whether consent existed, both through more lenient classifications and through a rule about freedom from responsibility,” he said, referring to rules that absolve a child under the age of 15 from from criminal responsibility.

The confusion around the legality sex between teenagers involving someone under the age of 15 has also caused concern among parents and teens.

“This uncertainty and fear and cause young people to avoid turning to adults for support when they need it,” Maria Bergström of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (Riksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning – RFSU) told TT.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:07 August 29, 2011 by calebian22
Not that the feminists will ever admit it or even believe it, but the males are the hunters and the females are the hunted. The cases of aquittal and conviction mentioned in the story, I agree with whole heartedly.
18:15 August 29, 2011 by Frobobbles
How hard can it be. Even if you failed math you can usually count to 15, right?
19:38 August 29, 2011 by Keith #5083

Your metaphor of hunter/hunted is somewhat outdated. Since when did the Elg or Deer have equal rights with Mr Magoo? But if your ego needs this fantasy, dream on.

In an 'equal rights society' it matters little the gender of the 'accused'. That's what 'equal rights' means.
22:55 August 29, 2011 by johan rebel
Sweden should adopt the Dutch solution. In the Netherlands, the age of consent is 12, provided the partner is not more than two years older. Simple and elegant.

Defining the age of concent in law is by definition arbitrary. People do not all become sexually mature and active at exactly the same age. Not even in Sweden.
22:57 August 29, 2011 by countrysidedrive
Its is not right to convict a person who is one or two years older than the fifteen year old. It is too close in age and they are the same. There should be a law for example a fifty year old cant have sex with a fifteen year old. Or maybe more realistically a person over eighteen. But even that is debatable. Consensual sex is just that. They are both guilty. It just doesn't seem fair to convict a immature nineteen year old who thinks he is in love when he has sex with his mature fifteen year old.
22:57 August 29, 2011 by tgolan
consensual sex the key word it is consensual,

If a guy pays for consensual sex, then In most places they call the girl taking the money for consensual sex a whore or prostitute.

as simple as that...
00:11 August 30, 2011 by plswun
this could be used in the wrong way. if some young girls parents dont like the boy she chose to be with...and they find out the two had sex....them might simply report the boy. thats bs. i would guess that all of these cases are similar in that way. you have to try girls in the same way also. thats just not fair. how can you apply criminal charges to two underaged kids?? let them be children for fk sake!! let them experiment!! no, the parents wont like it but...so what?? this just gives kids another reason to hide things like sex from thier parents.
02:26 August 30, 2011 by missjane30

That happens all the time here in the US. The girl is 16, guy is 18 the girl's parents don't like the boyfriend and he gets convicted of statutory rape. Then he has to register as a sex-offender for life.
05:30 August 30, 2011 by philster61
"That happens all the time here in the US. The girl is 16, guy is 18 the girl's parents don't like the boyfriend and he gets convicted of statutory rape. Then he has to register as a sex-offender for life."

The US is batshit crazy anyway, whats new....
10:33 August 30, 2011 by Abe L
I don't get it, this is so utterly simple.

If the sex is NOT consensual then the violator goes to jail for a LONG time.

If the sex is consensual and both are under the age of the legal consensual age, then it's legal.

If the sex is consensual and one of them is under the age of the legal consensual age, then the violator goes to jail for a LONG time.

If the sex is consensual and one of them is under the age of the legal consensual age but lied about it or misinformed the other person, then it's legal. (not asking isn't a valid way of claiming you didn't know and it would be illegal)

If the sex is consensual and both are above the the legal consensual age then it's legal.

Apply above criteria to determine legality.

In addition make sure that ever kid gets taught by his parents and in school what the legal consensual age is, awareness is a big factor here.
11:40 August 30, 2011 by jackjones
If a youngster is not "mature enough to take a more qualified view toward sexual acts", then they are certainly not mature enough to understand the legality, and classifying consensual sex as a criminal act is inappropriate. You don't prosecute kids for making mistakes
00:23 August 31, 2011 by wxman
@missjane30, and her troll philster61, are mistaken (surprise). In the US, most states have the "three year rule". for example, a 19 year old boy can boink his consenting 16 year old girlfriend all he wants and not be accused of a crime.
03:22 August 31, 2011 by CamCurrie
On the elegance of the 'Dutch Solution'... how about if the partner is two years and one week older? We could all agree there's no solution that'll cover all th angles, but at least, the law should be applied evenly. Letting off older females because they were 'used' by boys to lose their virginities is tacky; why, younger females could also be using older boys for the same purpose, no?
15:27 August 31, 2011 by Svensksmith
With my daughters, the consensual age is when the little b-stard can support a family.
20:17 September 6, 2011 by pasto
Being from the US, the really frightening part of the entire article is that this person was acquitted but then on appeal was found guilty. In the US we have a constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy to keep the state from attacking a person over and over again for the same crime. Once acquitted, the person can never be found guilty for the same crime, of course if he commits the crime again, then that is a different case.
20:56 September 6, 2011 by Apeon
This is what developes when the STATE decides to become MOMMY!

Sweden,,, A country of Children.

Let the Parents Handle it.....
12:08 September 27, 2011 by gplusa
I think you'll find that most countries have the double jeopardy clause, pasto. But the case is not completed until any and all appeals processes that make up the case have also been completed. Then double jeopardy comes in to play. If the ruling from the first judgement was binding then any person who had been convicted of a crime could never be acquited later on appeal.
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