New laws regarding sexual exploitation of children

On May 1st, new laws came into force. The time for rape and genital mutilation against children was abolished and the minimum penalty for serious child pornography crimes increased. The amendments to the law mean that it is possible to report a rape or a female genital mutilation to a child, regardless of when the crime was committed.

On January 23rd this year, the government decided on a bill for the Riksdag with proposals to abolish the restriction for rape offenses and sex offenses committed against children and increased the minimum penalty for serious child pornography crimes.

– A perpetrator should know that if he commits abuse against a child, the law can reach him far into the future, says Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson.

Limitation period and punishment for rape and genital mutilation
On May 1st, the limitation period for rape against children, serious rape against children and genital mutilation of women committed before the victim turned 18 years was abolished. Crimes committed prior to the change of law are also covered by it, which means that those who have been subjected to rape or female genital mutilation before their 18th birthday can report the crime no matter how long it has been. Previously, rape and serious rape against persons under 18 had a limitation period of ten and fifteen years respectively. Violations of the law on the prohibition of genital mutilation of women have also had a limitation period of fifteen years.

The issue of limitation to be abolished for more crimes will be considered in the context of the investigation to be appointed to generally review the regulation on limitation.

Child pornography crime
The punishment for child pornography crime is a fine or imprisonment for up to two years. If the crime is considered minor, the penalty is a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of six months. Previous, serious child pornography offenses resulted in imprisonment for at least six months, but on May 1, the minimum sentence was increased to one year. The highest sentence is six years in prison. Before the law change, it was required that the perpetrator knew the child’s age, now the perpetrator can be punished if they should have suspected that the person was under 18 years. This increases the level of criminalization.

If an image of a child has pornographic features, it is counted as child pornography. In this case, ‘child’ refers to a person whose puberty development is not completed or when the picture or the circumstances surrounding it indicate that the person is under 18 years of age. The following documents are classified as child pornography offenses:

  • Portrayal of children in pornographic image
  • Making a pornographic image of children available to anyone else to disseminate, assign, lease or display the image
  • Obtaining a pornographic image of children
  • Watching or having a pornographic image of children
  • To mediate contacts between buyers and sellers of pornographic images of children or do anything else that leads to the trading of such images.

– Spreading pictures and videos where children are subjected to sexual abuse is a repulsive act. Each time the picture is shown, there is a new violation of the victim, says Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson.

Sources:

Cabinet Office: https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2020/01/avskaffad-preskriptionfor-valdtakt-och-konsstympning-mot-barn-och-skarpt-straff-for-grovt-barnpornografibrott/

Police: https://polisen.se/lagar-och-regler/lagar-och-fakta-om-brott/brott-mot-barn/barnpornografibrott/

 

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