The Myth of the Swedish “Rapefugee”

A comprehensive debunking of the myth of the “rapefugee”.

[A Swedish commenter called “Imaginary Petal” on We Hunted the Mammoth just posted a comprehensive debunking of the particularly irksome myth circulated by far-right xenophobes that Sweden is suffering an extreme rise in sexual crimes due to the large numbers of refugees moving there. It is reproduced here in full, with their permission, with my own notes and grammatical corrections in brackets where appropriate. — B.G.]

Hi guys. This is my response to the myth of Sweden as the rape capital of the world due to Muslim refugees. Needless to say, this comment will deal with rape, sexual assault, and other sexual crimes. I won’t use any kind of graphic language, but I will discuss various kinds of terrible crimes in a matter of fact tone. [I] think that’s the only CN [content note] necessary.


Let’s start with a graph, based on correct statistics, which at first glance might seem to confirm the conservative narrative. [This is the origin of this graph (se), which bears out Imaginary Petal’s explanation. — B.G.]

rapefugee-1
[A graph of the portion of Swedes who have reported sexual crimes committed against them from 2005 to 2015.]
(fig. 1)

I’ve seen quite a few people post this graph as evidence that rape rates are spiking, often without any further information given as to what the graph is actually meant to be showing. In short, the y axis shows [the percentage] of the total population in the age group 16-79 who say they have been victims of some kind of sexual crime. The purple line is for women, the blue line is for men, and the green line is for all genders.

Anyone who is somewhat familiar with rational thinking will quickly come to the insight that these stats do not correspond to the number of crimes reported to the police, or even necessarily to the number of crimes actually committed. The graph shows that more people, for some reason or other, said that they had been a victim of a sexual crime when responding to a survey. The upwards trend could be influenced by any number of circumstances, such as increased awareness, increased outspokenness, decreased stigma, a wider and more proper understanding of what a sexual crime really is, etc.

Secondly, these statistics don’t cover the entire population. For example, something like 40% of all rapes are committed against minors. A non-neglig[i]ble number of sexual crimes have victims over the age of 79.

Thirdly, there’s a bait-and-switch here. This graph covers all sexual crimes — not only rape. To illustrate my point with this complaint, let’s look at a different graph. [This graph came from the same place as Fig. 1 above; again, it bears out Imaginary Petal’s explanation. — B.G.]

rapefugee-2
[A graph of the total number of reports of various crimes in Sweden with sexual crimes superimposed.]
(fig. 2)

Here, the y axis shows total number of reported crimes. The [turquoise] line at the top is for all sexual crimes added together. The yellow line is for sexual assault. The purple line is for rape. The blue line at the bottom covers sexual coercion, blackmail, etc.

The most interesting thing here, in comparison to the previous graph, is that the number of reported sexual crimes dropped in 2015 from the previous year, while significantly more people reported in the survey that they had been victims of such crimes compared to the previous year. Again, this could be due to all kinds of different factors. It doesn’t necessarily mean that fewer sexual crimes were committed.

One very important thing to note, regarding this figure, is that these statistics show the number of separate crimes. A single case reported to the police could contain many separate crimes. For example, a child who reports their parent for sexually assaulting them a hundred times for the past decade would increase the number of reported crimes by a hundred (not by 1), and all those separate crimes would be counted for the year in which they were finally reported. The spike in crime for 2014 is in large part due to just a few cases each covering many separate crimes.

Another elephant in the graph, so to speak, is that both these figures show a more or less clear upward trend over the decade. In order to understand these trends, we need more background information.

First of all, these figures start at 2005 for good reason. In 2005, the legal definitions of rape, sexual assault, sexual crime, etc, were significantly broadened. Because of this, comparisons to pre-2005 would be wildly misleading. Not surprisingly, these new laws coincided with a massively increased awareness of what sexual assault is, largely thanks to feminist activists. A gradually increasing number of people became aware that men can be victims of rape, that women can be perpetrators of rape, that it’s quite possible to rape a sexual and romantic partner, that silence doesn’t necessarily mean yes, that no never means yes, etc etc etc.

Immediately following 2005, we see an increase in the number of reported sexual crimes (and a decrease in the number of self-reported victims of sexual crimes) until it plateaus in 2010. This increase coincided with a large influx of new refugees, mainly from Iraq, leading some people to jump to the conclusion that these mostly Muslim refugees must be responsible for the apparent wave of sexual crime. However, statistics show that the number of reported sexual crimes had been steadily rising for many years prior to 2005, under the old laws, while the number of self-reported victims of such crimes remained largely unchanged. This supports the theory that increased awareness has been a major factor in driving the number of reported sexual crimes up. We also need to consider that these are absolute numbers, i.e. we’re not dealing with crimes per capita. Sweden’s total population has been steadily rising since before crime statistics became available.

Here’s an interesting table that I created by searching the crime statistics database:

rapefugee-3
[A table labelled in Swedish, showing a more-or-less steady rise in sexual crimes from 1995 to 2004.]
(fig. 3)

This covers the decade prior to 2005, showing that the total number of reported sexual crimes (sexualbrott) rose dramatically year to year, well before the recent waves of refugees from majority Muslim countries entered the picture. Those determined to blame refugees for literally everything would undoubtedly try to pin this on Balkan refugees from the early 1990s. However, the steady and dramatic increase in reported sexual crimes has been a fact as far back as the database will let me investigate. I won’t include screenshots of the entire history of sexual crime. Anyone is free to access the database and do their own search, in order to verify my findings.

Take another look at the table in figure 3 before we move on. Many of the boxes are left blank. This is a clear indication that heightened awareness has played a massive part in increasing the number of sexual crimes reported to the authorities. Would anyone believe that there were zero child pornography related crimes prior to 2000? Did grooming (bottom row) simply not exist until a few years ago? Any such claims would be absurd and could [I would also add “should”. — B.G.] be instantly dismissed.

Returning to figure 2, we see that the number of reported rapes in 2009 was around 6000 (more accurately, 5937). For 2015, the number was also around 6000 (more accurately, 5918). In other words, the number is unchanged (slightly down) over the 7 year period in question. Let’s look at migration figures for the same period.

rapefugee-4
[A graph of the number of immigrants to and emigrants from Sweden between 1980 and 2015.]
(fig. 4)

From these statistics, we can see that not only did the 2005 spike in immigration have no measurable impact on the number of reported sexual crimes, but the much higher rates of immigration in later years have had even less of an impact. In fact, the number of reported rapes is unchanged as immigration is at an all time high. For every year prior to 2015, the largest group of immigrants has been Swedish citizens returning from having lived abroad for a period of time. Since 2015, the largest group of immigrants is refugees from Syria. The increased immigration by other groups than Swedish expats has had a clear influence on the proportion of Swedish residents born in a country other than Sweden.

rapefugee-5
[A graph of the portion of the population of Sweden which is foreign-born from c. 1963 to 2015.]
(fig. 5)

In 2009, 14.3% of all Swedish citizens [Imaginary Petal later corrected this to say “residents”, while still maintaining that it is irrelevant to the point made. — B.G.] had been born abroad. In 2015, the figure was 17%. In absolute numbers, that’s an increase of about 200 000 people, most of whom were recent refugees from majority Muslim countries. This massive influx of what the right would call “rapefugees” has led to a slight decrease in the total number of reported rapes. How could this be?

By now it should be obvious that blaming the increased number of rapes and other sexual crimes on Muslim refugees requires ignorance of all available facts. It should be equally obvious that we cannot determine that the number of rapes has actually increased.

When listening to the talking points from the right, we need to remember that they’re not only claiming that Muslim refugees are prone to rape. They claim, more specifically, that Muslim refugees target young, white women for sexual assault. The numbers, however, show that the number of sexual crimes against minors under the age of 18 dropped by 23% from 2014 to 2015, coinciding with the largest influx of refugees of all time. Of course, comparisons from year to year aren’t all that useful or reliable, but we can safely say that the 2015 statistics do nothing to help the conservative narrative. In addition, second generation immigrants are more at risk of being victims of sexual crimes than “ethnic Swedes” as well as first generation immigrants. Data shows that this is almost certainly due to other factors, such as urban/rural, class, average age, number of individuals per household, etc. Regardless of causation, we can definitely dismiss claims that young white women are more at risk than young WoC [women of colour], when taking into account the demographics of the total immigrant population.

Before I’m done here, I want to add the caveat that I don’t intend to downplay statistics showing that an increasing number of women say they have been victims of sexual assault, more women say they feel unsafe, and so on. My purpose is only to illustrate that we cannot conclusively say that sexual crime is on the increase, and that it would be nonsensical to blame such an increase on refugees.

Sources:

[End of Imaginary Petal’s content. — B.G.]

An Autobiography

I was born in Utah, stronghold of the Mormon church, to students at Brigham Young University. From the moment of my birth, my parents undertook to raise me in Mormonism. My father has ancestors who moved from England to settle Utah after converting (in Mormonism, such a person is said to be “of pioneer stock”); my mother’s parents converted from Lutheranism.

We moved out of Utah when I was aged one, and my parents continued their programme of indoctrination. Over the next decade, they would have two more sons, and they extended the programme to them as well. They successfully made Mormons of all three of their sons, and each of us was baptized in his turn as he turned eight, as is the custom among Mormon families.

I oscillated in my zeal for “the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ”, with peaks as I was baptized and just before my deconversion. At these peaks, I would bring my “triple combination” (The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price, three books of Mormon scripture, bound in a single volume) to school, read diligently from The Book of Mormon as the “prophets” commanded, and enjoyed to write stories on themes from Mormonism. At my most zealous, I would occasionally ridicule others’ religions and religious symbols without remorse, for I thought I belonged to the true church of Jesus Christ, and The Book of Mormon says (I Ne. xiv: 10):

Behold, there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church [the church of the devil], which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

Chastisement or hostile reactions only inflated my sense of righteousness; I thought of these reactions as “persecution”, and thus compared myself to such righteous and legendary characters as Abinadi, a prophet from The Book of Mormon whom the wicked King Noah burnt to death for delivering God’s rebuke to him and his court.

A further example of my self-righteousness: in middle school, as children in becoming adolescents found a new interest in sex and swear-words, I maintained God’s favour (as I supposed) in resisting these trends, and even threatened to terminate an important and long-standing friendship over this. (I never did).

In time, I entered high school and Mormon seminary. On the way to seminary one early morning, my mother introduced conservative talk radio to me by playing it as she drove me thither. I was already very conservative, having several of Glenn Beck’s books in my possession; I followed the 2008 and 2012 elections with great interest and was appropriately distressed when Barack Obama won both. Throughout high school, I listened to such figures as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, and Mike Gallagher at every opportunity, all of whom I esteemed then but contemn now.

The youth of my congregation would gather from time to time at a leader’s house and hear an address from a leader. On one such occasion, a leader gave an address defending the veracity of the Book of Mormon. This awakened doubts in me, having been told in school that horses only came to the Americas with the Europeans, while the Book of Mormon, whose setting is the Americas at the time of the Roman Empire, mentions horses many times. Nevertheless, I suppressed this doubt, aided by Wikipedia’s inclusion of Mormon apologetics. While sitting in church, it struck me how very businesslike the Mormon church was in its operations, on another occasion that “I need a religion like I need a favourite sports team!”, and on still another occasion that the primary purpose of the church was to propagate the church. But I suppressed these thoughts also, for it was forbidden to think them, and I dreaded severe punishment if I dared to express them.

I began learning LISP (“the language of artificial intelligence”), and I wanted to try a bit of artificial intelligence by writing a program to practise formal logic. In my search for valid argument forms, I found RationalWiki, which has unfavourable things to say about Joseph Smith and the Mormon church. The things said resembled my idea of “anti-Mormon slander”, so, being more skeptically inclined than not, I took to the Internet, and entered the simple term “mormonism” into DuckDuckGo. I did not at all suspect that the Mormon church bought a higher ranking in Google search terms for “mormonism”, but I used DuckDuckGo rather than Google because I was concerned about privacy. I wanted a second opinion on Mormonism, but I feared the repercussions from my parents for reading “anti-Mormon lies”.

Very near the top of my search results was Recovery from Mormonism. The concept of “recovery from Mormonism” intrigued me, so I read the site, and found a large archive of former members’ strongly-worded grievances against church leaders. I could not simply dismiss the complainants as thin-skinned, as I had been taught to do; their grievances seemed very significant, and the offenders seemed unworthy of their holy offices. It did not occur to me at all that they were lying, and it seemed highly unlikely that everyone was lying. As I read more and more accounts, the idea occurred to me that, contrary to what I was taught, there was no divine inspiration in the appointment of church officers, and the abuses recorded were enabled by the system.

I also found the website of Richard Packham, a former lawyer and linguist, who wrote an interesting article on linguistic problems with Mormonism, as well as the “Letter to a CES Director”, another doubting Mormon’s list of problems with the doctrine of the church, which he wrote to an officer of the “Church Educational System” (CES) in search for answers; the CES director failed to provide any. I learned, not only from the content of these websites but also from their very existence, that there were many hundreds of people like me who were not afraid to question Mormonism, and they had powerful and well-sourced reasons for their unbelief.

The combined force of these documents and the information therein completely blasted my belief in Mormonism. I continued to read the aforementioned websites, and found that the stories of Jesus are no better evinced than the stories of The Book of Mormon, and that there is no good evidence of any gods whatever. Thus I suddenly thought, as though an electric light were illuminated, “Agnostic atheism is the only reasonable position!”

On the eighteenth of December, 2014, I confessed my unbelief to my parents. I received a stern talking-to from them, many tears were shed on all sides, and they still maintained that they could make a good Mormon out of me. Therefore, they sent me to Brigham Young University (BYU) in August 2015; BYU bars disaffiliated Mormons from attending and will not hesitate to evict and expel Mormon students who deconvert. BYU is wholly owned by the Mormon church, and the Mormon “apostles” sit on its board of directors.

My deconversion coincided with a reversal of my political opinions. Very many Mormons are highly conservative; conservatism in Mormonism has a very long history. A general application of skepticism drove me to analyze all my beliefs, and by analysis, my conservatism disintegrated. Via RationalWiki I found the excellent We Hunted The Mammoth, and via We Hunted The Mammoth, I learned of the very ugly contingents of misogynists and racists that infest the Internet — GamerGate, “men’s rights activists”, “pick-up artists”, and others, whose acts range from utterly risible to absolutely horrendous. Though I have read about them for more than a year, I still cannot comprehend how these people can be so monstrous, yet at the same time so contemptible, if they are not the ultimate combination of all-consuming hatred and insuperable incompetence.

Thus I am gone from conservative Mormon to liberal atheist. That is the course of my life as far as it has run, “and thus it is; amen.”

Preface

This is Two Sixteen House, a place where I shall publish insights and other articles which I find worthy of publication, or which I judge to be of interest to the public. I suspect that the focus of Two Sixteen House will probably narrow in the future, but at present, this is a general-interest space.

Some may object to my use of WordPress for the purpose, noting that I could use Facebook or some other social media platform instead. However, I am on Facebook under my real name, and for various reasons (which are elucidated hereinafter), I would not like to associate my writings here with my real name, nor would I like to create another Facebook account. I would also like to write articles longer than the infinitesimal attention span manifest on Facebook allows, where any article longer than around two hundred words without a click-bait title is skipped over amid chants of “tl;dr”. Hence, I founded Two Sixteen House to allow full and free expression of my thoughts.

I was raised Mormon, but am now an irreligious atheist, due to the fact that no religion can provide evidence for its truth claims. Mormons, like most religionists, are very ill-disposed toward those that leave their religion, one leader even saying that he is “furious with people who leave [the Mormon] church”. This man (Jeffrey Holland) is no low-level leader; he is an “apostle”, one of the fifteen men who rule the entire Mormon church. Furthermore, I am in a position where the normally more-or-less impotent church can make me feel the full intensity of its wrath. It is for this reason that I would not like to publish my writings under my real name, and I will not censor myself for the sake of allaying Mr Holland’s fury.

The topics that are most likely to receive treatment here are (in no particular order):

  • Religion (particularly Mormonism and Christianity), skepticism, and the like;
  • Science, technology, mathematics, and engineering; and
  • Politics, history, social justice, &c.

It is no coincidence that these overlap with my personal interests.

Writing pseudonymously allows me to feel free to speak my thoughts (especially regarding religion) uncensored and unencumbered by the reactions of those that hold the power to ruin apostates like me, and are all too eager to exercise it. At some future time when the danger has passed, I may reveal my real name, but not now.

My pseudonym is Benjamin Gleck, derived from a spoonerism of “Glenn Beck”, to whom I used to look for insightful (!) political commentary. “Two Sixteen House” is derived by a convoluted route from “The Blaze”, Glenn Beck’s media outlet. Two Sixteen House is my media outlet, and no religionists shall silence it!