It’s been a couple of weeks since a certain president said that things in Sweden are bad. His narrative is not a new one. There are certain groups that will assure you that due to immigration rates and refugees coming to the country, Sweden is becoming crime-ridden land, the rape capital of the world, a country of no-go zones. This is simply not true.
I know I just got here. It has been around 6 months only. But I can assure that this is a great place to live. So in this post, I will try to bring some facts to the table so you can be sure that Swedes will welcome you and you will be able to safely and joyfully study at KTH and live here.
What happened in Sweden last night?
It was a Friday night in Florida. The now US President Donald Trump was giving one of his characteristics speeches, full of hyperboles and angry words. He turns the conversation to national security, and how the travel ban of Islamic countries is essential to it. Then, he urges his audience to look at what is happening in Europe. To remember the attacks in Belgium and Nice, and also to see what happen in Sweden the night before. It takes everyone by surprise.
Especially the Swedes. On social media, people were asking what on Earth he was talking about and the Government officially asked for clarification. The truth is that nothing had happened. At least nothing worth noticing worldwide as the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet makes clear.
The next day, the President made things clear. He was not mentioning a specific event that actually happened here in Sweden, but a segment that had run on Fox News about immigration and how migrants are violent and criminals. There are two interesting things about this Fox News segment. The photographer that shot it said it was “unethically edited”, while the interviewed cops said that their answers were selectively edited and that they do not agree with what is shown there.
I don’t know you, but it sounds to me some sort of fake news thingy was going on here. But anyway, let’s continue.
What is the immigration situation in Sweden?
It is no secret that Sweden does take a lot of immigrants and refugees. It has always had more humanitarian migrants than the rest of Europe, but in the last decade, it has been 7 or 8 times the continent’s average. Take a look at this nice article on Sweden’s official website. In 2005, the country received around 65.000 immigrants, while in 2014 the number went to 126.000.
I could not find much information on country of origin. But according to this article, the main growing immigration groups come from Asia and Africa.
So it is a fact that Sweden is welcoming a lot of people and becoming a multicultural society. For some people, this means the Islamification of Sweden or the Islamic Invasion of Sweden or whatever, and the consequence would be a huge crime wave.
Is there a crime wave in Sweden?
Sweden has always been seen as a safe country. But the big bad immigrants are changing that, terrifying the peaceful blond people. At least this what some people claim, like the far right party. Is it true? You tell me, but first take a look at this chart from The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, an agency of the Ministry of Justice.
Do you see any rise? Any spike? Maybe there were more harassments in 2013, but it is safe to say that the crime rates are stable. Taking refugees or immigrants apparently had no impact on the crime rates in Sweden. Take a look what the Government says about it:
Claim: “There has been a major increase in gun violence in Sweden.”
In general terms, violence has decreased in Sweden in the last 20 years. At the same time, surveys repeatedly show that people in Sweden and in other Western countries have a perception that violence is actually increasing. Perceptions of increased violence have been linked to the number of immigrants in Sweden. Nonetheless, research shows that there is no evidence to indicate that immigration leads to increased crime. Despite the fact that the number of immigrants in Sweden has increased since the 1990s, exposure to violent crimes has declined.
Data from the Swedish Crime Survey shows that in terms of lethal violence, there has generally been a downward trend over the past 25 years. Nonetheless, the level in 2015 – when a total of 112 cases of lethal violence were reported – was higher than for many years.
Studies conducted by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention show that lethal violence using firearms has increased within the context of criminal conflicts. The number of confirmed or suspected shootings was 20 per cent higher in 2014 than in 2006. The statistics also show that 17 people were killed with firearms in 2011, while the corresponding figure in 2015 was 33.
Let’s compare to have some perspective. In my hometown in Brazil alone, in 2016 there were 778 murders or robbery attempts that ended in murder. It means one person killed every 5 hours or something. So for me to live here in Sweden is kind of cotton-candy land.
Just to clarify, I don’t want to say there is no crime here. Yes, sometimes there are real riots with people burning cars and things like that. But it seems to be something fueled by drugs and gangs, not by immigration.
What about rape? Isn’t Sweden the Rape Capital of The World?
Another common claim about Sweden is that it is the rape capital of Europe. And you know what? It is one of the countries with the highest number of rape per capita, it is true. Numbers are generally around with statistics of 69 rapes per 100.000 inhabitants, while US rates are 27.3 and Belgium 27.9. But here is the catch: there is no agreed standard way of reporting sexual assaults, and Sweden has one of the broadest definitions there is. Again, let’s look at the data from the National Agency for Crime Prevention. They say:
It is important to note that sex offenses comprise a broad spectrum of offenses – everything from minor incidents, such as indecent exposure, to very serious incidents, such as rape.
Also, one must consider that Sweden counts sexual assaults differently than most countries. Here, if a woman is assaulted by her partner every day during a month, the police counts 30 assaults, while in most of other places it would count as 1 assault. Naturally, it results in bigger numbers.
And finally, there is one last point to consider: gender equality. Yes, gender equality may lead to higher sexual assault figures. Why? Because women feel safe and comfortable enough to report when they have been assaulted, they know officers will take them seriously and not judge them.
This makes a huge difference. In Brazil, for example, there are estimates that only 35% of the rape cases are reported to the police. And it is not hard to understand why: in 2013, almost 25% of the population agreed that women who dressed “improperly” were asking for sexual assault. Given the size of Brazil, it is around 50 million people who partially think women are responsible if they get assaulted. Another sad fact, in Brazil they estimate there is 1 rape every 11 minutes.
So, yes, Sweden does report more rapes, but partially it is because it is a better society for women. Might seem a paradox, but makes sense.
There are no-go zones, where the police can’t go in.
Again, a common thing to read. In the suburbs, away from the city centers, there are crime-ridden suburbs, where criminals are kings and not even the police can get in there. But how true is that?
It is true that you do have places in Sweden with higher crime rates than others, like any other country. Last year, the Swedish Police identified 53 areas around the country with increasing crime, social unrest, and insecurity. And the police admits they have a tough time to fulfill their duty there for a number of reasons, but there is no such thing as a place where the Swedish Law does not apply. In an interview, a police officer said that “there are no no-go zones, but go-go zones”, that is, places they know they have to work harder.
To learn more, please take a look at these links:
Police: There are no ‘no-go zones’ in Sweden (Sverige Radio Interview)
Please, trust me
Sweden is changing, I guess. It is welcoming people from every corner of the planet, which puts the whole society under a transformation process. I am proud to say I am part of it. This country and its people have been great to me. I feel safe and happy here, I am certain you will also feel that way. So please, trust me when I say that this still is an amazing place to live, even if there are certain groups trying to make you believe otherwise.
Let me know if I missed something!