Free will only

Every human being has the right to decide over their body and their sexuality. Therefore, Sweden has a sexual offence law based on the idea of free will. Sex must be an act of free will - otherwise it is a crime.

Sex as an act of free will means that the persons involved have expressed clear consent to a sexual act using words or body language. That’s why it is important to listen, ask, check and show respect. You must be sure about what others really want.

Violence or threats are therefore not necessary in order for a person to be convicted of, for example, rape. It is also not necessary that someone took advantage of another person’s particularly vulnerable situation, for example if that other person was drunk. If sex is not an act of free will, it is a crime.

All sexual acts must be an act of free will

Remember that everyone always has the right to change their mind. It doesn’t matter what happened previously or who took the initiative. It is a criminal offence to proceed with a sexual act with a person who no longer wants to participate. Consenting to a certain type of sexual act does not mean that the consent applies for other sexual acts.

Read more about the new legislation on our webpage.

Talk about sex

Sex should feel good – before, during, and afterwards. This means that if you want to have sex, you need to pay attention, listen and read other people’s signals.

If you are not sure what the other person wants, you must ask them to make sure that you are interpreting the situation correctly. Don’t guess. At worst, guessing can lead to you doing something against another person’s will that violates or hurts them. By doing this, you also commit a crime.

A good way to find out what someone feels is to talk to them. Ask them what they want and what they like. Another way is to watch and listen to their body language, facial expressions and tone of voice.

Contact us

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

You can also visit our website at www.brottsoffermyndigheten.se. Here you will find information in several languages ​​about the rights of all crime victims. You can also read more about how to file a police report and how a trial is run in Sweden.

About the law

Since the 1stof July 2018 Sweden has a new sexual offence legislation based on the concept of free will. It is sometimes called the consent law. The legislation clarifies that every human being has the right to decide over their own body and their own sexuality. Sex must be an act of free will, otherwise it’s a crime.

Sex as an act of free will means that a person has expressed consent to a sexual act using words or body language. If you want to have sex with someone you must first find out if the other person actually wants to participate by asking them, for example.

This also means that a person always has the right to change their mind at any time. It doesn’t matter what happened previously or who took the initiative. Carrying out a sexual act with a person who no longer wants to participate is a crime.

All sexual acts must be of free will

To give consent to one type of sexual act doesn’t mean that the same consent is valid for other acts. Therefore, it is important to ask or in other ways find out what the other person wants for each new sexual act. For example, if a person has said or showed that they want to have oral sex, it doesn’t mean that they also want to have vaginal or anal sex. The person must say or show that they want to participate in each new sexual act, regardless of who took the initiative

Sex that is never an act of free will

There are situations, according to the law, when a person can never be considered to have participated consensually in a sexual act. In the following situations, it is always a crime to carry out a sexual act with another person. It doesn’t matter if the person has previously said or showed that they wanted to participate.

 

  • Assault, violence or threats

If a person participates in a sexual act after having been subjected to assault, violence or threats, for example if the perpetrator hits the person or holds them down by force. Another example is if the perpetrator threatens to spread nude images of the other person.

 The person being violent or threatening does not have to be the one carrying out the sexual act on the victim for it to be considered a crime. This is the case, for example, when a person buys sex from someone who is only participating because they have been subjected to violence or threats,or is otherwise in a situation that means that participation cannot be an act of free will.

 

  • Particularly vulnerable situation

If the perpetrator takes advantage of another person who is in a particularly vulnerable situation, such as under the influence of alcohol or drugs, has a disease, an injury or a mental disorder.

Another example is if a person is very afraid from being in a certain situation. Sometimes, such fear can make the person paralysed, a state called “frozen fright”.

 

  • Abuse of dependency

If the perpetrator grossly takes advantage of the fact that another person is dependent on them. This may apply to, for example, a teacher and a pupil or a manager and an employee.

The criminal offences rape and sexual abuse

Sex or sexual acts that are carried out against a person’s free will can be, for example, rape or sexual abuse. The difference between the crimes is determined by the type of sexual act that has taken place.

The criminal offence rape means that the perpetrator performs sexual intercourse or another sexual act that is comparable to intercourse with a person who has not given voluntary consent. This may apply to, for example, vaginal, anal or oral sex. Other examples include penetration with objects or fingers. Rape can also be when the perpetrator’s and the victim’s genitals come into contact with each other.

The criminal offence sexual abuse includes sexual acts against a person who has not given voluntary consent, which do not count as acts of rape. Some examples are if someone forces a person to masturbate, or if the perpetrator touches the victim while masturbating themselves.

Two new criminal offences

There are two new offences in the sexual offence law: negligent rape and negligent sexual abuse. These apply to situations where a person carries out a sexual act even though they suspect, or should have suspected, that the other person might not want to participate. A person who wants to have sex therefore has the responsibility to find out whether all persons involved really want to participate.

Sexual offences from a distance

Rape, sexual abuse and other criminal sexual offences can also be committed from a distance, for example over the phone or on the Internet. One example is if someone forces another person to carry out sexual acts on themselves in front of a web camera.

It is always illegal to carry out sexual acts towards children under 15

According to the law, a child under 15 years of age can never give consent to participate in a sexual act. It doesn’t matter who the other person is or if the child says or shows that they want to have sex.

One exception is when people who are almost the same age have consensual sex, for example if they are in a relationship as a couple. If it is obvious that they both want to have sex with each other voluntarily, the person over 15 should not be convicted of a criminal offence.

A person who has carried out sexual acts towards a child under 15 can be convicted of a crime even if they believed that the child was older. If so, the perpetrator was negligent for failing to find out the person’s age.

Youths aged between 15 and 17

If a parent or another person who has custody of a person aged 15–17 subjects the younger person to sexual acts, it is considered a sexual offence against children. According to the law, a young person in this situation can never participate voluntarily. However, young people between 15 and 17 can have consensual sex with other people.

Get in touch

There are many authorities and organisations you can contact if you need help or support. You can choose if you want to email, call, chat online or visit a centre. Here are links to organisations you can contact. In an emergency, call 112.

Unless otherwise stated, the websites are available in English and sometimes other languages, and the phone lines are open 24/7.

Read, call, email and chat online

Here are links and contact details for organisations you can contact if you need help and support.

112 – SOS Alarm

You can call the emergency number 112 to alert the police if you are experiencing or have just been subject to a crime. You can call the number from a landline or mobile phone, wherever you are in Sweden. Your call will be answered by an emergency operator who will ask you questions in order to give you the necessary assistance.

114 14 – the Police

The Police’s non-emergency contact number is 114 14. You can call this number if you want to talk to the police, ask a question or report a crime. You can also report a crime by visiting a police station in person. You can find your nearest police station on the police authority website.

1177 - the Healthcare Guide

You can call 1177 and talk to a nurse around the clock if you need healthcare advice. The website contains information about health and diseases. You can also find information about local clinics.

Ombudsman for Children

The Ombudsman for Children is available for people under the age of 18. You can call the Ombudsman free of charge to find out more about your rights and where you can turn if you need help. If you have any questions about the Convention on the Rights of the Child, you can chat with the Ombudsman.

Telephone hours: Monday-Friday, 09:00-15:00
Closed for lunch 12:00-13:00.

BRIS

BRIS is available for people under 18. Here you can talk to a counsellor and get support and help. You can talk about anything that concerns yourself or someone you know. You can call, chat, email or book a telephone appointment. You are always anonymous when you contact BRIS.

Telephone hours: Monday-Sunday 14:00-21:00

Victim Support Sweden - Young Victims

The website Unga brottsoffer (Young crime victims) is available for people aged between 12 and 25 and provides information about your local victim support services. The website is only available in Swedish.

Telephone hours: Monday-Friday, 09:00-15:00
Closed for lunch 12:00-13:00.

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services (BUP)

BUP welcomes children and young people under 18 years old. On bup.se you can read advice and information and find your closest BUP centre. You can also ask anonymous questions and read questions and answers from other young people.

Your Rights

The Your Rights website provides a chat service called Love is Free (Kärleken är fri) aimed at children and young people. You can ask anything about honour-related oppression and violence, restrictions, rights, love, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (“female circumcision”).

Chat is open Tuesday to Thursday between 19:00 and 21:00.

Föreningen Storasyster

Föreningen Storasyster (Big Sister Association) is aimed at survivors of rape or other sexual assault. The website provides information and a chat service where you can get help and support. Anyone can get in touch, regardless of sexuality and gender identity and you can remain anonymous. The website is only available in Swedish.

I Want to Know

I Want to Know is a website created by the Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority aimed at children and young people. Here you can find out about what makes something a crime. You can also find contact information for support organisations where you live.

Killfrågor.se

Killfrågor.se (Guys' Questions) is an anonymous chat service for young guys where you can talk to someone who will listen, support and encourage you. You can be completely anonymous, and no question is too big or too small. You will talk to people of different genders and from different backgrounds, all aged 20 or above. Everyone has been trained to be a good support person. The website is only available in Swedish.

Sweden’s National Women’s Helpline

If you are subjected to violence, you can call Sweden’s National Women’s Helpline, a support organisation run by Sweden's National Centre for Knowledge on Men’s Violence Against Women. Friends and relatives are also encouraged to contact the helpline. The call is free of charge and will not show up on your telephone bill. If you cannot speak Swedish or English, the helpline has access to interpreters for most languages spoken in Sweden. If you need an interpreter, it is important that you stay on the line as it can take up to ten minutes before the interpreter is connected.

Kvinnors Nätverks Stödverksamhet

Kvinnors Nätverks Stödverksamhet (Women’s Network's Support Function) Linnamottagningen provides advice to youths, both girls and boys. Everyone who work at Linnamottagningen have been trained and have experience from working with young people who live under threats, control and violence from their family, relatives or people close to them. Matildamottagningen provides support for women with a foreign background, with or without a residence permit. If you need to talk to the authorities, Linnamottagningen or Matildamottagningen can represent you. The website is only available in Swedish.

Telephone hours: Daily 09:00-22:00.

Novahuset

Novahuset is a non-profit organisation that gives support and advice to people who have experienced any form of sexual assault. Everyone can contact Novahuset for support, no matter your age or gender identity. Those close to you are also welcome to contact Novahuset. You can talk about anything: from questions regarding your body, to getting help to process an assault, or reporting an assault to the police. The website is only available in Swedish.

Telephone hours: Monday-Friday 8-17

nxtME

nxtME is a non-profit organisation aimed at people who have been subjected to incest. You can send an email, call, chat or meet a support worker. The website is only available in Swedish.

Telephone hours: Monday 18:00-19:00 and Thursday 11:00-12:00

Origo

If you feel like your family or relatives are controlling you, and you are aged between 13 and 26 and live in Stockholm, you can talk to Origo. At Origo, there are adults who understand and can help you, regardless of your gender, sexuality, religion or ethnicity. You can call free of charge or ask an anonymous question.

Monday and Thursday 09:00-12:00 and Tuesday and Friday 13:00-15:00.

Pegasus

Pegasus is an organisation belonging to RFSL Ungdom that is aimed at young LGBTQ+ people aged between 15 and 25 who have experience from, or questions about, sex for money. You can talk to a Pegasus counsellor online, via Kik, Skype, email, telephone or visit our centre in Stockholm. You can always remain anonymous. The website is only available in Swedish.

Telephone hours: Monday 09:00-10:00, Wednesday 09:00-10:00 and 15:00-16:00, Friday 09:00-10:00 and 15:00-16:00.

PrevenTell

PrevenTell is a national helpline for people who feel that they have lost control of their sexuality, who might be worried or afraid that they will harm themselves or others. You will have the chance to talk to someone anonymously and get support and help. If you are close to someone with problematic sexual behaviour or simply have questions, you can call PrevenTell.

Telephone hours: Monday-Friday 12:00-15:00. You can call at any time and leave a message. PrevenTell will call you back from a withheld number the following work day.

RFSL Support Centre

The RFSL Support Centre is there for people who identify as LGBTQ+ who have suffered insults, threats or violence. RFSL provides support through on-site conversations, telephone or email. You can remain anonymous and staff at the centre are trained and experienced. RFSL can offer follow-up and contact with healthcare services and the authorities.

RFSU

RFSU is an organisation that provides information about sex and relationships. You can use the RFSU chat to ask private questions and get answers. You can also read other people's questions (in Swedish) in the questions and answers box.

Roks

Roks is the National Organisation for Women’s Shelters and Young Women's Shelters in Sweden. It is their task to protect the mutual interests of all Swedish women’s shelters and support them in their work. The Roks website provides information that will help you contact the right shelter.

Save the Children helpline

The Save the Children helpline is aimed at people who have moved to Sweden and want to talk to someone. Both young people and parents can call the helpline. The helpline is available in Arabic, Dari, Pashto, Swedish and English.

Telephone hours: Monday-Friday 15:00-18:00

Social Services

Social services have the overall responsibility for making sure that residents of a municipality receive the help and support they need, and a specific obligation to support people who have been subjected to violence in close relationships. Each municipality has its own website where you can find information and contacts for the social services. On the website of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, SKL, you can find a list of all municipalities. The list is only available in Swedish.

Somaya safehouses for women and their children

Somaya offers support, advice, information and protection for women and young people who are subjected to violence in close relationships. They also specialise in honour-related violence or oppression. You can call or email them and receive help in over 30 languages, including Arabic, Tigrinya, Farsi, Somali, Spanish and English. It is free of charge and you can remain anonymous.

Monday-Friday, 09:00-16:00
Closed for lunch 12:00-13:00

Terrafem

Terrafem works for women's and girls' rights to live without male violence and dominance. They run the only nationwide emergency line and provide support and advice to women in over 67 different languages. Terrafem also provides a legal advice line and can provide safe houses and support for women who have been subjected to violence.

Telephone hours: Monday-Friday 09:00-18:00

Young Women’s Empowerment Center

Anyone who identifies as a woman can contact the Young Women’s Empowerment Center (Tjejjouren) for support or encouragement. There are around 60 different women’s empowerment centres around Sweden.

TRIS - Tjejers Rätt i Samhället

The TRIS association works against honour-related violence and oppression. You can contact TRIS if you feel restricted by your family or relatives, have experienced threats or violence when you try to make your own choices, or just want to talk to someone. TRIS has social workers with lengthy experience of working with young people at risk of being subjected to honour-related violence and oppression. The website is only available in Swedish.

Telephone hours: Monday-Friday 09:00-17:00

UMO

UMO is a website for everyone aged between 13 and 25. UMO.se contains information about the body, sex, relationships, mental health, alcohol and drugs, self-esteem and much more. You can also find information about your local centres and ask personal questions. The website is only available in Swedish.

Unizon

Unizon brings together over 130 women’s shelters, empowerment centres and other organisations that are working for a gender-equal society free of violence. Unizon can help you contact a centre.

Youmo

A website with information from UMO in different languages. The information is available in Swedish, English, Tigrinya, Somali, Dari and Arabic.

Victim Support Sweden

Victim Support Sweden is available if you have been the victim of a crime or witnessed a crime. You can also contact Victim Support Sweden on behalf of a relative or someone you know who has been the victim of a crime. The website provides a list of local victim support services.

Telephone hours: Monday-Friday, 09:00-16:00
Closed for lunch 12:00-13:00.

Ungarelationer.se

Ungarelationer.se provides information and anonymous chat support for people aged 20 and under. Contact us if you are
- subjected to violence in your relationship,
- have a friend who is subjected to violence,
- the person responsible.

The website also provides information about different types of violence, warning signs and what makes a good relationship. The website is only available in Swedish.

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