After what Trump said about Sweden, people have started posting links to articles about there being a huge increase in rape and sexual assault in Sweden, and Swedish cities with large immigrant populations being overrun with crime. Is there any truth to these claims?
Timely question, Anon! We were just about to post something about the effects of such a large number of refugees arriving in Sweden! Which we’ll get to in a minute…
1) For those who don’t know, Trump claimed there was a recent terrorist attack in Sweden and linked it to the amount of refugees Sweden has taken in - more per capita than any other country.
The only problem is that, like the “Bowling Green Massacre” that only Trump aide Kellyanne Conway seemed to know about, no one anywhere had heard of any such terrorist attack.
But it turns out there was a terrorist bombing, in Gothenburg Sweden last month that left one person seriously injured.
Why did no one hear about it? Because it was a bombing of a refugee centre by white supremacists. And as we all know, when neo-nazis commit a terrorist attack, it does not get the same media coverage that a terrorist attack by racialized people receive.
For example: a recent media study examined U.S. coverage of two terrorist attacks in Canada: the 2014 shooting that left one person + the shooter of Muslim background dead and the 2017 shooting that left six people dead and seventeen injured when a white supremacist stormed a Québec mosque and opened fire (the latter being another white supremacist attack Team Trump used as a justification for their own Islamophobia!). Turns out the attack by the Muslim shooter received 6x more media coverage in U.S. media outlets, even though the attack by the white supremacist killed 6x more victims.
But we digress.
2) Is there any truth to claims of a huge increase in rape and sexual assault in Sweden?
Some bigots would expect - and even hope for - an alarming increase in sex crimes so they can point their fingers at refugees and immigrants and shriek about kicking them out. But sorry bigots, it’s just not happening!
Sweden took in 162,877 asylum seekers in 2015. Between 2014-2016 alone Sweden took in 273,116 refugees (x; x). This is the highest proportion of refugees taken in by any western country.
So let’s look at figures for 2014, the year before all these refugees arrived in Sweden:
2014 reported rapes: 6,700
2014 reported sexual molestations: 9,640
Then 2015, when 162,877 refugees arrived, one would expect an 1.7% increase in these crimes, given the 1.7% increase in population and assuming that they are as likely to commit crimes as Swedes are. Hmm, let’s see now:
2015 reported rapes: 5920 = a 12% drop
2014 reported sexual molestations: 8840 = an 8% drop
Now the latest figures:
2016 reported rapes: 6560
2016 reported sexual molestations: 10,500
So: reported rape and sexual molestation cases actually dropped by 12% and 8% respectively the year that 162,877 refugees arrived in Sweden. The next year, reported rape cases were still 2% lower than they were in 2014 (before the arrival of 162,877 refugees) but sexual molestation cases increased by 8% over 2014 levels.
Why would one category of sexual violence go down and another go up? No one is sure at this point but we’ve yet to hear a coherent explanation or see credible evidence that establishes “foreign hordes” as the cause of the increase in one category but simultaneously discounts them as a factor for the decrease in the other. And the xenophobes haven’t been quick to point out that an 8-to-12% drop in sexual violence occurred in 2015, the same time that 162,877 refugees came to Sweden.
Actual criminologists like University of Stockholm professor Jerzy Sarnecki, point out that “what criminologists do is to look at the 10-year, 20-year development. Then we can see the trends. Year to year, it’s impossible to judge why changes occur.” Not only is there is zero evidence of any wave of sex crimes committed by refugees; the available evidence indicates that they are as-or-less-likely to commit these crimes than native-born Swedes. Sorry bigots!
You’ll see the same thing in Germany despite what hysterical xenophobes would have you believe. The UK actually experienced a drop in crime related to the number of migrants coming in. In the U.S. a study that was just released found that refugees had a huge effect in substantially reducing crime rates.
When people start screaming about a wave of sexual violence committed by refugees that is simply not supported by the crime stats; and when it’s clear that the sexual violence rates were higher when there were fewer refugees, it’s not hard to figure out that the concern and outrage is less about sexual violence and more about xenophobic scapegoating.
3) Back to the news we were going to tell you about what effect this large wave of refugees is having on Sweden! Just two years after taking in 81,000 refugees, Sweden is riding high atop its largest economic boom in five years! Lower unemployment rates and economic growth topping 4.5% as the economy benefitted from more workers.
It’s not that surprising given that a third of Syrian refugees brought university educations with them to Sweden and that countries like Australia, Canada, Germany, Kenya, the UK and the U.S. have all found that migrants are economically-beneficial.
So Anon, we hope you’ve learned two things about Sweden’s migrants: they’ve had either no effect or actually reduced crime rates while being a huge boon for the economy!