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Kvinnans rättigheter i rätten: Om våldtäktsdefinitionen i svensk sexualbrottslagstiftning
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2015 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

During the past 10 years Sweden has updated its penal code for sexual crimes twice. Despite this few are convicted for the crime of rape in Sweden. As the majority of perpetrators being male, this is a problem concerning women’s rights to respect for their bodies and personal integrity. A possible explanation, and this study’s point of departure is a potential discrepancy between the intention of the law and the interpretation of the same as the Swedish legal system rests on a foundation of legal positivism. Hence focus of this study has been the motives behind the definition of rape in the law and the interpretation of the same. The purpose has been to establish the development of the rape law and its political motives, how the judicial system has interpreted the legal text in actual cases and if this is in alignment. As to explain why so few are convicted for the crime of rape and to critically examine how this affects women’s rights as well as how the interpretation of the definition of rape can be carried out in a more legally secure way for the victims. This has been done firstly by examining the states public investigations and state bills before the update of the penal codes definition of rape in 2005 and 2013. Secondly by an analysis of arguments used by the Swedish courts, mainly the district courts, in two rape convictions and three verdicts of acquittal. Arguments used by the courts have then been compared to the motives behind the legal definition of rape to see if the perceived discrepancy between the intended meaning of the law and the interpretation of the same existed. Thirdly, the judicial systems legal basis for interpretation was criticised from the two theoretical perspectives of the study; a criticism to legal positivism and a gender hierarchical perspective.


The analysis shows that the updates of the rape law are clearly morally motivated and women’s rights based. In contrast to the legal positivistic judicial system interpretations, avoiding morally based argumentation relying on the systems foundation solely. The critical investigation shows that both a the perceived gender neutral system as well as legal positivistic tradition of sidestepping moral argumentation in courts result in lack of questioning the system and how it comes to its decisions.  Hence the discrepancy between the two systems can be a part of the explanation why women’s rights are not secured in Sweden. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 73 p.
Keyword [en]
Women’s human rights, Rape, Swedish legal system, Legal positivism, Gender hierarchies, Moral
National Category
Ethics Law and Society
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-253805OAI: diva2:816045
Educational program
Master Programme in Human Rights
2015-06-01, Engelska Parken, Uppsala universitet, Uppsala, 10:30 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-06-08 Created: 2015-06-02 Last updated: 2015-06-08Bibliographically approved

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