Gang-rape acquittal verdict rocks Sweden: activists cry foul
Sweden is presently in deep moral throes after the Svea Hovsratt, the Swedish Court of Appeal, acquitted six teenagers who had been earlier convicted in a lower court for abducting and gang-raping a 15-year old Swedish girl.
The acquittal is being branded countrywide, by all sections of Swedish society, as "failed justice" and "totally unacceptable in a civilised humane society".
In a development bordering on the aftermath of the Delhi rape case, the Swedish legal establishment seems to have woken up to social realities. The new ruling has prompted many to speak out and call for the introduction of a specific law which says that consent must be given before sex.
Leading the protests, most vociferously and dramatically, is the global feminist movement, FEMEN, claiming that "Sweden has become the rampant unparalleled rape paradise in the world".
The case has rocked Sweden since March 2013, when the 15-year-girl was abducted, locked up in a wardrobe and sexually assaulted by six boys in their late teens at a party in Tensta, a northern suburb of Stockholm, densely populated by North African and Arab immigrants.
Tensta is deemed "the largest ghetto in Europe" in Swedish as well as international press.
"That all the boys come from these ethnicities gravely aggravates the case; that, and the highly unnatural type of sex they indulged in," an activist, Hans Eriksson, told IANS.
While the boys were initially convicted of "aggravated rape" by a lower court in Solna, Stockholm, they have been acquitted by the Svea Court of Appeals which ruled that, according to "operational Swedish law the victim could not have been deemed to be in an 'incapacitated state' and 'therefore was not helpless at the time of the incident'".
While the prosecutor claimed the girl was so scared that she was in a "helpless state of fear", the court decided that "to be considered in a helpless state, the girl's fear should have been as strong as unconsciousness, excessive drunkenness, or physical injuries".
On Tuesday, FEMEN protesters, all young girls, staged a bare-all protest at the court. Two of then succeeded in entering the courtroom with slogans like "No. Don't legalise rape" boldly painted on their bare bodies.
They explained that they were on hand to continue to push the message that the ruling was wrong and, in a final effort, to get the case taken to the Swedish Supreme Court (Hogsta Domstolen).
"It's hilarious that they're freeing rapists," one of the protesters, Sara, screamed. "We invite the judge, Fredrick Wersall, to experience the same treatment. We will happily oblige."
While one teen was on hand distributing condoms, another, Moa, said: "FEMEN is backing the victim all the way to the Svea Hovsratten and justice. We hope that this 15-year-old girl sees she is not alone and has practically all of Sweden behind her.
"Most rape charges in Sweden just get dropped," she added.
"There has been a rape case against an adult in which he was set free by a Swedish court contending that the victim did not put up adequate defence. My God, the victim, in question, was a barely two-year-old child."
A list of signatures to move the Supreme Court in the 15-year-old girl's case has, reportedly, already crossed the 100,000-mark by Tuesday afternoon.
(Alfred de Tavares can be contacted at [email protected])
(Posted on 02-10-2013)