Sweden does not have a significantly higher rate of rape cases than other European countries due to immigration

By: Arron Williams
May 8 2024

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Sweden does not have a significantly higher rate of rape cases than other European countries due to immigration

Source: TikTok


The Verdict Misleading

Sweden has various legal and methodological differences in its statistics, and it is difficult to compare crime statistics between countries.

Claim ID f3606808


Recent TikTok videos compare rape statistics from Sweden with those of Hungary and Poland, using the metric of rapes per 100,000 people, to claim that Sweden has a higher rate of rape cases than other European countries. The hashtags "wellwellwell" and "hasfallen" that feature alongside the videos insinuate that Sweden's high rate is due to immigration.

Sweden's statistics appear significantly higher, with a rate of 79, while Hungary has 3.9 and Poland has a rate of 3. 

However, it is difficult to compare rape statistics from Sweden to other countries and misleading to claim that Sweden has a higher rate of rape. 

In fact

Data from Eurostat does record that Sweden, in 2022, had the highest rate of rape in EU countries at 86 per 100,000. The data also shows that between 2017 to 2022, Sweden was at the top with the highest rate of rape, while Hungary and Poland were on the lower end.

However, there are differences in the way that Sweden records its data on rape, giving an apparently much higher figure than other countries. As Sweden's National Council for Crime Prevention, Brottsförebyggande rådet (Brå) states, definitions can differ greatly between countries, and "there is no universal definition of rape." What classifies as rape in one country may not classify as rape in another, and this affects report statistics, making comparison difficult as the measure of classification differs.

In many European countries, violence is required for the crime to be classified as rape, but in Sweden in 2016, around 40 percent of reports of completed rape against women did not involve violence and referred to the exploitation of a vulnerable situation. According to Brå, the number of rape reports in Sweden would decrease by three-quarters if the same statistical and legal conditions used in Germany were applied, which would result in Sweden ending up somewhere in the middle of the Eurostat statistics. 

While this would still be higher than Hungary and Poland's statistics on reported rapes in Eurostat, it does not suggest that Sweden has a significantly high rate of rape.

Sweden also has other differences in how it compiles its statistics, as there are no international standards on crime statistics. In Sweden, every offense against a single victim is counted separately, attempted offenses are counted together with completed crimes in its statistics, and all reported events are recorded as crimes. 

Brå told the BBC in 2017 that a peak in 2014 rape figures was due to changes in legislation in 2013. Similar increases were seen in 2006 after new sex offense legislation came into force in 2005, and since this change, Sweden has recorded every reported case of sexual violence separately. As the BBC explains, "In many other countries, these incidents would be recorded just once: one victim, one type of crime, and one record." 

As a result of these statistical differences mentioned, as well as many other variations, such as in some countries purging data, the data on crime statistics is not comparable. 

Other issues also make it difficult to interpret and compare rape statistics. Rape is understood to be often under-reported. For example, in the U.K., the number of sexual offense cases reported by the police is lower than estimated rates because of high levels of under-reporting; many victims do not report rape to the police because they feel humiliated or that no one can help. Under-reporting is also seen in the U.S., with nearly 80 percent of rapes and sexual assaults going under-reported.

An increased reporting rate in Sweden could be because women in Sweden are more likely to report rape to the police than women in southern Europe. Sweden ranks highly in Europe in terms of trust in the judicial system and gender equality. An increase in reported rapes is not necessarily indicative of a growing rate of rape, but rather that reporting standards have improved and people feel more comfortable reporting to the police. However, this does not determine that it can be ruled out that the differences in reported rapes, to some extent, reflect actual differences in the number of rapes. 

There is no evidence that immigration has caused a significant increase in rape in Sweden, and the data alone cannot describe this change. Eurostat told Logically Facts, "We do not have any study or data showing a link between immigration and crime."

The verdict

Sweden's methodological and legal differences when it comes to recording and gathering data make it difficult to compare statistics. These methods make the rate of rape appear significantly higher than the rate recorded in other countries. There is also no evidence Sweden's rape rate is linked to immigration. Therefore, it is misleading to compare Sweden's data with those of other countries due to these differences, and we have marked the claim as such. 

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English , Svenska

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