“Sex Must be Voluntary”: Sexual Communication and the New Definition of Rape in Sweden

Guest Lecture

  • Date: Mar 31, 2021
  • Time: 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Dr. Linnea Wegerstad (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Lund University / Sweden)
  • Lin­nea We­ger­stad has a De­gree of Doc­tor of Laws from Lund Uni­ver­si­ty. Her doc­to­ral the­sis ex­plo­res the con­cept of se­xu­al in­te­gri­ty through a his­to­ri­cal, theo­re­ti­cal, and doc­tri­nal ana­ly­sis of Swe­dish cri­mi­nal law. She has prac­ti­ced as a jud­ge in the ge­ne­ral courts for a few years and is now a se­ni­or lec­tur­er of cri­mi­nal law at Lund Uni­ver­si­ty. Her main field of re­se­arch is se­xu­al of­fen­ses and fe­mi­nist le­gal theo­ry. She is current­ly in­vol­ved in a re­se­arch pro­ject tit­led “The #Me­too Mo­men­tum and Its Af­ter­math: Cri­me Vic­tims’ Ju­sti­ce-See­king and So­cie­tal and Le­gal Re­spon­ses”, fun­ded by the Swe­dish Cri­me Vic­tim Com­pen­sa­ti­on and Sup­port Au­t­ho­ri­ty.
  • Location: via Zoom
  • Host: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law
  • Contact: c.hillemanns@csl.mpg.de
Ma­ny coun­tries are in a pro­cess of re­pla­cing out­da­ted sex of­fen­se re­gu­la­ti­ons with laws that ac­cu­ra­te­ly cor­re­spond to mo­dern ideas about gen­der equa­li­ty, se­xu­al self-de­ter­mi­na­ti­on, and con­sen­su­al sex. One ex­am­ple is Swe­den, whe­re a law that de­fi­nes ra­pe ba­sed on a cri­te­ri­on of non­vo­lun­ta­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on en­te­red in­to for­ce in 2018. This lec­ture pres­ents an ana­ly­sis of how ra­pe is un­der­stood in the new le­gal dis­cour­se in Swe­den, and I show that ra­pe is pre­sen­ted as a mat­ter of choi­ce and com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on in se­xu­al si­tua­ti­ons. I argue that the new ra­pe law sends a cle­ar mes­sa­ge about what sex should be — na­me­ly, vo­lun­ta­ry — but does not ac­cu­ra­te­ly de­s­cri­be the cri­me and the be­ha­vi­or that de­ser­ves cri­mi­nal cen­su­re. I con­clu­de that a les­son from Swe­den is that fu­ture ra­pe law re­forms may be­ne­fit from em­pi­ri­cal know­led­ge of how peo­ple com­mu­ni­ca­te in se­xu­al si­tua­ti­ons.

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