During the first half of 2019, Stockholm has seen a total of 1,060 rapes. Compared with 890 rapes in the same period last year, this marks a drastic 20 percent increase.
In addition, 24 so-called “negligent rapes” were reported during the first half of the year. This is a recent addition to Sweden's criminal code that appeared after a so-called “consent act” was introduced on 1 July 2018.
According to the news outlet Mitt i, Stockholm sees an average of five rapes a day, many of them making attention-grabbing headlines, such as the group rape in Hässelby.
The situation is so bad that the Södersjukhuset hospital had to set up a special emergency department for raped women. About 800 victims are treated each year there.
The region's financial council Irene Svenonoius of the liberal-conservative Moderate Party has called this development unacceptable.
“I look extremely seriously at all the rapes. The increase is alarming”, Svenonius told Mitt i. “We know that the number of rape victims is significantly higher”, she added, calling for “strong and concerted efforts” to solve the problem.
An unknown number of rapes remains unreported and unpunished. According to Södersjukhuset, only six in ten rape victims choose to report the assault to the police.
In many cases, the daily Dagens Nyheter reported earlier in August, sexual assaults are not classified as rape but as other crimes, such as unlawful threats or unlawful coercion, especially if the woman managed to escape.
“This can be at least as traumatic as a rape”, Anna Möller of Södersjukhuset told the newspaper.
Given the recent development, the Moderates are in favour of a higher police presence and harsher penalties to stem the growing number of rapes, Elisabeth Svantesson, Moderates' fiscal policy spokesperson, said.
“It is not the only way to go, but it is important to highlight the seriousness of the crime. We must treat the perpetrators with hard gloves and ensure that rape actually leads to prosecution”, Svantesson said.
At present, only five in a hundred reported rapes result in sentencing, national broadcaster SVT reported earlier this year. Meanwhile, the number of reported rapes has risen from about 4,000 per year to over 5,000 over the past decade.