Free will only

As of 1 July 2018, Sweden has a new sexual offence law based on consent. Sex must be an act of free will, otherwise it is illegal. The law clarifies that every human being has the right to decide over their body and their sexuality.

Sex that is an act of free will, or in other words, voluntarily consented to means that a person has expressed consent to a sexual act using words or body language. So listen, ask, feel, and respect. You must be sure about what others actually want.

Violence or threats are not pre-requisites for a person to be convicted of, for example, rape. It is also not a requirement that someone abused a person’s particularly vulnerable situation, for example that the person was under the influence of alcohol. If sex is not an act of free will, it is illegal.

All sexual acts must be an act of free will

Remember that a person always has the right to change their mind. It doesn’t matter what happened previously. It also doesn’t matter who took the initiative. Proceeding with a sexual act with a person who no longer wants to have sex is a criminal offence. Also, remember that having consent to a certain type of sexual act does not mean that the consent is valid for other acts.

Two new criminal offences

There are two new offences in the sexual offence law. The offences are called negligent rape and negligent sexual abuse. This may apply to situations where the perpetrator carries out a sexual act even though the perpetrator suspects that the other person doesn’t want to participate. In other words the perpetrator takes a chance that the other person wants to participate.

It can also apply to situations where the perpetrator hasn’t suspected that the other person did not participate with voluntary consent, but should have done so. A person who wants to have sex must find out whether the other person really wants to participate.

More information about the new legislation is available here.

Talk about sex

One way to find out about how a person feels is to talk about sex, to find out what the person wants and likes. Sex should feel good before, during, and afterwards. Another way is to read and to understand body language, facial expressions and tones of voice. If you want to have sex, you need to be open, see, listen and catch signals. If you are unsure about what the other person wants, you must ask to make sure you interpret the situation correctly. Don’t guess. At worst, a guess can lead to a criminal offence.

You are entitled to help and support

It is never your fault if you have been subjected to sexual abuse. You are always entitled to help and support to deal with your experiences. It is often helpful to talk about what happened, for example with a friend, a member of your family or someone else you trust. There are also several organisations that you can contact if you want to talk to someone.

A list of organisations is available here.

Doing something to another person that doesn’t feel right

It is always wrong to carry out a sexual act against another person’s will. You can get help if you want to talk about what happened and help to change your behaviour. For example, you can call the hotline PrevenTell.

Contact us

If you have questions about this website, please contact the Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority at registrator@brottsoffermyndigheten.se.

You can also visit the website of the Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority www.brottsoffermyndigheten.se. The website includes information in several languages about the rights of victims. You can also read about how to file a report to the police and how a trial works.

About the law

Sweden has new sexual offence legislation which is often described in media as a consent law. The new law is based on voluntariness. Sex must be an act of free will, otherwise it’s a crime. The legislation clarifies that every human being has the right to decide over their body and their sexuality. The new legislation is applicable for crimes committed after 1st July 2018.

All sexual acts must be an act of free will

Sex that is an act of free will, or in other words, voluntarily consented to means that a person has expressed consent to a sexual act by using words or body language. A person who wants to have sex must find out if the other person actually wants to participate, for example by asking the person. If the person gives no indication that they want to have sex, the initiating part must assume that the person doesn’t want to have sex. For that reason, the person wanting sex needs to find out what the other person wants.

It is important to remember that a person always has the right to change their mind. It doesn’t matter what previously happened or what the person has said or done. It also doesn’t matter who took the initiative. Proceeding with a sexual act with a person who no longer wants to have sex is a criminal offence.

Consent to a certain type of sexual act doesn’t mean that the consent is valid for other acts. Therefore, it is important, in each new situation, to ask or to find out whether the other person still wants to participate. All sexual acts must be an act of free will. For example, a person who has said or showed that they want to have oral sex hasn’t consented to having vaginal sex. The person must say or show that they want to have vaginal sex. This is the case regardless of who took the initiative to the sexual act.

Situations that are never an act of free will

There are situations when a person can never participate consensually in a sexual act. Examples of such situations are:

  • If a person participates in a sexual act after having been subjected to violence or threats. An example is if the perpetrator threatens to spread nude images of the other person.

  • If a perpetrator takes advantage of a person who is in a particularly vulnerable situation. Examples of such situations include when the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, has a disease, an injury or a mental disorder. Another situation can be when the person is very afraid. In case of such fear, the person may be paralysed by the situation, a state called “frozen fright”. There are also other circumstances where the person is deemed to have been in a particularly vulnerable situation.

  • If the perpetrator grossly abuses the fact that the other person is dependent on the perpetrator. This may involve, for example, a teacher and a pupil or a manager and an employee.

  • If the person is under 15.

 

In these situations, it is always illegal to carry out a sexual act with that person. It doesn’t matter if the person has said or showed that they want to participate.

It doesn’t have to be the same person who is, for example violent or threatening, who also carries out a sexual act, for it to be a criminal offence. Individuals who buy sex or sexual services can therefore be convicted of the criminal offence rape or sexual abuse. This is the case, for example, if the person who buys sex is aware that the victim is not participating with voluntary consent, but participates because they are subjected to violence or threats or are otherwise in a situation that means participation cannot be an act of free will. An individual who buys sex or sexual services can also be convicted for other crimes.

The criminal offences rape and sexual abuse

Sex or sexual acts that are carried out against a person’s free will can be rape or sexual abuse. The difference between the criminal offences is determined by the type of sexual act that has taken place. The offence rape means that the perpetrator conducted sexual intercourse or another sexual act that is comparable to intercourse with a person who did not participate with voluntary consent. This may, for example, be vaginal, anal or oral sex. Other examples include penetration with an object or fingers, or where the perpetrator’s and the victim’s genitals come into contact with each other. The criminal offence sexual abuse includes other sexual acts then the acts covered by rape against a person who is not participating with voluntary consent. Examples of acts may be that the victim is forced to masturbate, that the victim is forced to masturbate for another person or that the perpetrator touches the victim while the perpetrator masturbates.

Sexual offences can also take place via phone, the Internet or other media where the perpetrator is in a different location than the victim. In this case, the criminal offence is committed at a distance. An example is where the perpetrator forces another person to carry out sexual acts on themselves in front of, for example, a web camera.

Two new criminal offences

There are two new offences in the sexual offence law. The offences are called negligent rape and negligent sexual abuse.

This may apply to situations where the perpetrator carries out a sexual act even though the perpetrator suspects that the other person doesn’t want to participate. In other words the perpetrator takes a chance that the other person wants to participate.

It can also apply to situations where the perpetrator hasn’t suspected that the other person did not participate with voluntary consent, but should have done so.

A person who wants to have sex must find out whether the other person really wants to participate.

Youths aged between 15 and 17

Special rules apply if the victim is aged between 15 and 17. If a parent or another person who has custody of a young person aged 15–17 subjects the young person to sexual acts, the perpetrator will be convicted of a sexual offence against children. There are different sexual offences against children, depending on what the perpetrator did.

According to the law, a young person in this situation can never participate voluntarily in a sexual act. However, young people over the age of 15 can have consensual sex with other people.

It is always a criminal offence to carry out a sexual act in relation to children under 15

A child under 15 can never participate consensually in a sexual act. It doesn’t matter who the other person is. It also doesn’t matter if the child wants to have sex.

A perpetrator who did not suspect that the child was under 15 can still be convicted of a criminal offence against children if the perpetrator should have suspected that the child was under 15. If so, the perpetrator was negligent for failing to find out the person’s age.

Lämna sidan direkt Dölj ditt besök
Cookies och behandling av personuppgifter