The number of Swedes claiming to have been sexually assaulted has risen by 70 per cent in two years, with more than 13 per cent of women reporting to be too fearful to go out in the evening.
In 2014, just 1 per cent of Swedes said they had been sexually attacked, jumping to 1.7 per cent of the population in 2015 – equivalent to about 129,000 people.
In 2013, 1.3 per cent of Swedes said they were victims, and before that, between 2005 and 2012, the level of reported sexual crimes had remained relatively stable, hovering around the 1 per cent risk mark for seven years.
The data comes from the 2017 annual survey [page 47] of the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), an agency under the Ministry of Justice, which produces Sweden’s official crime statistics. Almost 12,000 people were contacted by telephone and through questionnaires.
The category of sexual assault in the survey includes a wide range of crimes, ranging from more minor misconducts such as indecent exposure to the most serious of crimes such as rape.
Exposure to such sexual crimes is more common among women than men, and most frequent in the 20-24 age bracket.
According to Yleisradio Oy (Yle), Finland’s national public broadcaster, the survey identified a rise of more than 100 per cent in reported sexual attacks among women, increasing from 1.4 to 3 per cent.
Anxiety about sex attacks, particularly among young women, has also increased. Around 22 per cent of women surveyed said they were worried about sexual assault and abuse, as well as around 8 per cent for men.
This fear is affecting the way many women are living their lives. Between 13 and 14 per cent of surveyed women said they did not venture out in the evenings because they felt insecure.
The most common location for sexual assaults is in a public place, the survey found, and most often the perpetrator is unknown to the victim.