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Swedish courts 'making horny teens criminals'

The Local/og · 3 Apr 2012, 17:03

Published: 03 Apr 2012 17:03 GMT+02:00

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The tougher legislation, which came into force during the tenure of former Social Democrat justice minister Bodström, was enacted in an effort to help protect young children from sexual predators.

But an unintended consequence can result in unsuspecting teens being dragged into court for having consenting sex with a partner under the age of 15, Sweden's age of consent.

If, for example, a 15-year-old were to have consensual sex with a 14-year-old partner, the older teen could nevertheless risk being convicted of sexual assault, rape, or exploitation of a minor.

"(The law) exists so that older people can't abuse children under the age of 15, and it's really important that we keep them protected. But this has not taken into account two young people who have completely consensual sex with one another," Bodström told Sveriges Radio (SR).

Bodström, together with, Åsa Regnér, head of Sweden's National Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU), voiced their concerns about how courts are interpreting the law in an opinion article published on Tuesday in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

"The tougher sex crime laws came about to protect children, not saddle them with guilt," the two write, calling for an immediate review of the legislation.

According to Regnér and Bodström, young people who are ready to make their "first tentative steps into adulthood" may feel threatened by laws suggesting they are criminals.

They argue that sex among youth should be something that is understood and discussed, and that the current risk of a criminal record is something that can hang complicate that conversation, adding that a conviction can hang over a young person's head for a lifetime.

Speaking with SR, Regnér rejected claims that the law, which includes an exemption clause for cases involving young teens, is too complicated.

"We don't think so, we think that this arrangement for exemption is clear, but apparently it doesn't work as we thought, and therefore it's important to review it," she said.

According to Bodström, the primary problem is that courts have misinterpreted the 2005 statute.

Uncertainty has also resulted in cases where social workers are unaware of how to best advise teenagers contemplating having sex.

Story continues below…

Despite a precedent-setting 2007 Supreme Court case involving consensual sex between a 17-year-old and 14-year-old in which no sentence was handed down, a handful of subsequent court cases haven't followed a similar line, according to Regnér.

Bodström explained that the debate has been infected by extraneous considerations regarding the sexual habits of young Swedish teens.

"This has drifted into being a kind of moral issue as to whether the young people should have sex or not, and we think that's a question for them to decide, as well as their parents," Bodström told SR.

"Whether others have a moral issue about it is up to them, but it shouldn't result in it being taken to our courts and being a question for police and prosecutors."

The Local/og (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:47 April 3, 2012 by philster61
Why am I not surprised to rad Bodstrom is involved in this......Who else could criminalize normal behavior except a lame excuse for a man like Thomas Bodstrom. I'd be curious to see how his behavior was when he was a teen. Although it is more likely he lived at home with his mother until he was about 30
18:14 April 3, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Clearly it was poorly thought out legislation. The surprising thing is that the so-called precendent-setting 2007 ruling involving a 17 and 14 year old did not in fact set a clear precedent.

If the decision by some courts to ignore the 2007 ruling is because the idea of teenagers having sex is revolting to some people, then from now on these teenage defendents should have a right to be judged by their 'peers', not in the usual sense of being judged by teenagers, but rather being judged by judges who are not afraid to admit that they had sex as teenagers, and who therefore understand the difference between normal and predatory sexual activity.

Shame on any idiot who refuses to adjust this law, or who implements or practices it in a way that torments teenagers for normal behaviour, by using it to drag them before a court, even if no sentence is handed down.
18:14 April 3, 2012 by Opinionfool
What age difference would be acceptable to Bodström? Let's assume the 14 year old girl of the article, when do intercourse with her go from consenting to sexual assault? When her partner is 15? 16? 17? 18? What about if there is someone over that age in the room at the time? Infeasible? Not according to an earlier article here where an older man encouraged (and filmed) 16 year old boys to have sex with a girl in her "lower teens" ; read 'Man paid teen boys to rape underage girl' at http://www.thelocal.se/36928/20111024/ Would Bodström still think his interpretation applies because the actual sex partners are close in age?
18:24 April 3, 2012 by Frobobbles
Typical Swedish stupidity. They pass a new law, and then expect it to be not followed, but interpreted according to documents that were never passed, called 'förarbeten'. Thus the word of no law is valid, but subject to the arbitrary judgement of various interests.
20:17 April 3, 2012 by Douglas Garner
When I was a teen the rule was that you had to be within two years of each other, otherwise it was considered statutory rape. Seemed fairly reasonable... even at the time!
20:37 April 3, 2012 by Pakistani_Student
Nothing surprising there
20:56 April 3, 2012 by johan rebel
In the Netherlands it is legal to have sex with a minor of 12 years or older, provided the age difference does not exceed two years.
23:56 April 3, 2012 by respect4ALL
rules out of nowhere..wat about the `*kill em be4 the grow* idea?

irrespective of age, as longer as the two come to an agreement, i dont see why the gov r involved or why they should enter into other affair(S).
11:27 April 4, 2012 by Bolinb
What? SO I a 50 year old man can have sex with a 15 year old girl (or boy) and that is okay: Stupid laws made by paedophiles for paedophiles. Sweden is so bent on protecting the 1 or 2 exceptions they are making it oka for all those that choose to abuse. It seems that a 22 year old boy (Young man) can seduce and manipulate a 14 (oops sorry) 15 year old child to have sex with him and it is so acceptable that "I" was told to "BUT OUT". This country has strange ideas. if a couple of teenagers have sex, That is okay and if they do not have the maturity to do it safely (As stated by this paper) then we all have to pay for the support of the child. How about education and accepting that laws are mad to TRY and protect those who cant protect themselves. You are mostly Hypocrites........
18:36 April 4, 2012 by Vill
I sometimes wish I lived during the early 1900s (before everybody went insane).
20:01 April 4, 2012 by BritVik
Once again proving that the Law is an ass. Ill-thought-out and crazily applied.

is it a surprise? I think not.
16:16 April 5, 2012 by JMSN
Yeah but this is the same everywhere... it's statutory rape, and I mean honestly, if you have sex with a minor then you have to be ready to deal with the consequences otherwise keep it in your pants! It's not that hard... however, Bolinb is right, they should try and mend it so as to avoid a 50 year old and a 15 year old doing it, although in practice that's quite imposible, at least I don't know of any countries that do that, you just got a minimum age and that's it.
09:52 April 6, 2012 by luke123
What was he thinking when he created that moronic law ?

Now he complains that his horribly oppressive law actually applies to everyone, and not just to those people he doesn't like.
17:44 April 6, 2012 by SuperTulle
So I'm suddenly a pedophile because a 14-year old girl asked me to go down on her when I was sixteen? God damn, better turn myself in at once! The fact that she wanted me to do it will probably only make my punishment harder.
12:58 April 9, 2012 by Marc the Texan
Even Texas has laws that take into account the relative age differences of young people. And they've been on the books for decades. Sweden is so far behind on this.
07:37 April 14, 2012 by Gjeebes
Sweden is quite far behind on many things. It is amazing how in Sweden, issues solved 3 or more decades ago in other Western countries, are still under discussion. Come on Sweden, for a wheel to function as a wheel, it must be round. No need to start at the beginning, yet again.
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