A certain hypocrisy

Leslee Udwin’s documentary about the Delhi rapes was shown in Sweden recently and there was much coverage in the media and the talk shows about the misogynist nature of Indian society. Also in India an alleged rapist was lynched last week by a mob which was led by a gang of schoolgirls. The alleged rapist was an immigrant from Bangladesh. The girls are being hailed as heroes in some quarters even though CCTV pictures show the victim apparently willingly accompanying her rapist into and out of a hotel. The “human rights” and “women’s rights” activists are largely silent here. So was the lynching due to misandry and were the schoolgirls leading the mob misandrists?

Today it is reported in Sweden that the rapist of a 13 year old was set free by two successive courts because the girl was well developed for her age. I note also that a certain Julian Assange is sitting holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid a Swedish arrest warrant for the investigation of an alleged rape by a woman who was willingly sharing his bed. No doubt the Swedish arrest warrant for Assange is largely political (on two counts; first to appease the US and second to appease the feminist lobby). The definition of rape in Sweden is quite wide and many so-called “rapes” would not be considered so in other countries. On the other hand Sweden must be one of a very few countries where sexual intercourse with a minor – no matter what she looked like – would not lead to a rape conviction. And when convictions are reached they often lead to little more than a slap on the wrist. Acquittals are very common. Which leads to the peculiar situation that the bar to what is considered rape is quite low when it comes to prosecution but there are very few convictions by the courts.

(With penalties for rape so low in Sweden I wonder why Assange is so scared of being questioned. Presumably he is more concerned about “rendition” to the US – where he is wanted for the leaks in the Bradley (Chelsea) Manning case – than of any consequences for the alleged rape in the Swedish courts. Sweden does have a history of assisting the CIA in cases of rendition in the past).

But whether in India or in Sweden the hypocrisy is palpable. In India there are only very few and very reluctant prosecutions, but convictions lead to very severe sentences. Once a rape is alleged, the suspect lives precariously. In Sweden, on the other hand, the definition of rape is very wide and the bar to prosecution is very low. The many prosecutions rarely lead to any consequence of substance from the courts.

AftonbladetThe 27-year old man saw the 13-year-old girl on a bench outside his apartment, invited her in and had sex with her.
He was charged with child rape but was acquitted in two instances.
The decisive factor was the Court’s assessment – that the girl’s body was well developed for her age.
The 27-year-old man was arrested in April last year and charged first with child-rape and secondly, rape. But both Västmanland District Court and the Svea Court of Appeal acquitted the man.
The prosecutor chose not to appeal to the Supreme Court, but the girl’s counsel has taken up the case. The Supreme Court must first grant leave to appeal for the case to be reopened.
“There are very few cases that have so far been taken up”, says the girl’s lawyer Goran Landerdahl.

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