‘Don’t go out alone’: Swedish police warn women after four rapes in four days
A sleepy college town of 170,000 people, Uppsala is more usually known for its universities and cathedral than for violent crime. However, police are investigating a series of sex crimes in recent days.
Two “completed rapes” took place last weekend, with another attempted rape on Saturday night, and another sexual attack in the early hours of Wednesday morning. All four attacks took place at night, and all four victims were walking alone. Police are treating the incidents as unconnected and no descriptions of the suspects have been released.
Police did, however, release a warning. Not to any would-be rapists, but to their potential victims. “Women in town should not be worried, but must think how to behave,” the city’s police force said in a statement to newspaper Expressen.
“Feel free to walk on illuminated streets and not alone in alleys or parks,” they continued, adding that because officers “cannot be in all places, both men and women have to think ahead.”
Similar advice to women in Uppsala has been criticized before. When four out of five schoolgirls said they felt unsafe outdoors in the city earlier this year, women’s rights groups called for a greater police presence on the streets, instead of security advice to potential victims.
“Reducing girls’ freedom of movement is a serious development,” activist Mariet Ghadimi told SVT Nyheter in March. “It is a structural problem that restricts girls’ freedom and rights, and in the long run affects women generally.”
Sweden’s rape count has been rising since 2005 and jumped ten percent in 2017 alone. Between 2005 and 2017, rapes nearly doubled and sexual molestation incidents more than doubled.