Sexual harassment is a 'major public health issue' in Sweden: survey

The Local Sweden
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Sexual harassment is a 'major public health issue' in Sweden: survey
The survey takes a wide look at the current state of sexual and reproductive health and rights in Sweden. Photo: Alexander Larsson Vierth/TT

The first in-depth study of Swedes' sex habits in more than two decades reveals that while most people are satisfied with their sex life, harassment and assault are all too common.


Sweden's Public Health Agency on Tuesday released the results of a survey sent to some 50,000 Swedes between the ages of 16 and 84. The report painted a picture of a populace that values sex and for the most part gets as much of it as it wants, but it also found that sexual harassment and assault is "common among women". 
Nearly half of all Swedish women, 42 percent, said they have been subjected to sexual harassment, compared to just nine percent of men. The same disparity was found in sexual assaults, with 39 percent of women and nine percent of men saying they've been sexually assaulted. 
The problem is even more widespread among younger women. Some 57 percent of women aged 16-29 say that they have been the victims of sexual harassment and 55 percent of women in the same age group were subjected to some form of sexual assault. 
"The scope of the problem is completely unacceptable. This is a major public health issue and these types of behaviours must be stopped," Louise Mannheimer, the head of the Swedish Public Health Agency's sexual health unit, said in a statement
More than every tenth woman (11 percent) has been the victim of attempted rape, according to the survey, and the numbers are even more shocking within the LGBT community. Roughly 30 percent of lesbians and ten percent of gay men say they have experienced a rape attempt. 
The Public Health Agency report said that there were significant educational disparities within the harassment and assault statistics. Women with lower education are more often subjected to harassment, assault and rape than women with higher education, it found. 
The survey is the most extensive of its kind and attempts to take a wide look at the current state of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Sweden, something the agency acknowledges is not easy to do. 
"Measuring experiences of peoples' sex lives and sexual habits is not without its difficulties," the report reads. "Earlier studies have focused on how often people have sex, sexual transmitted infections, and sexual risk-taking. The current study has a broader focus on SRHR and examined, among other things, sexual satisfaction and sexual dysfunctions."
The survey found that, in general, Swedes have healthy and satisfying sex lives. 
"The results show that the majority of the Swedish population is satisfied with their sex life, find sex important, and have had sex during the past year," it reads. 
More than three-fourths of Swedish men and women have had sex at least "a few times" during the past year, while 16 percent of women and 17 percent of men report having sex several times per week. 
Although the majority of the population reported being satisfied with their sex lives, there were disparities across age groups and genders. The most sexually-satisfied groups were women and men between the ages of 30 and 44, while those reporting the most dissatisfaction were young men aged 16 to 29 and both men and women aged 65 to 84. 


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