Swedish police warn of rise in teenage gang rapes filmed on smartphones
Women's organisations want stronger laws as sexual violence rises, especially among young
Swedish police have warned of a growing trend of teenage gang rapes, often filmed or photographed on smartphones, as a high-profile case under a new rape law opened in the capital.
In the case before the Stockholm court, three young men are accused of raping a girl, whose age has not been made public, in a forest south of the capital.
The girl was under the influence of drugs, and a judge said she was in a "particularly vulnerable situation" due to the number of men involved.
The trial is the latest in a series of cases of group attacks involving young Swedes that has prompted police to raise concerns about a trend in gang rapes.
"We're talking about very young teens," police inspector Moni Winsnes said on Tuesday.
"They are 14-15 years old. One girl was … 12. It goes on in front of their friends, who might even be filming and taking photos."
Video footage from smartphones is later used to shame and silence victims, or to blackmail them into participating in more group sex acts.
"It can be five guys and one girl, and she is forced to give them oral sex in public … the girl doesn't dare to say no," she said.
This year there have been almost 1,600 cases of sexual assault involving under-18s in Stockholm alone, up from 1,301 the previous year, according to official figures.
The number of cases that made it to court in the country as a whole where the victims were 15 to 17 years old almost doubled from 2011 to 466 last year.
Sweden has one of the highest rates of reported rape in Europe but police say that can be attributed to a greater willingness to report attacks in recent years.
However, Winsnes and others argue that the figures only reveal part of the picture.
They say the attackers often manipulate and threaten younger girls into participating in sex acts and once the girls are filmed doing so they have control over them
"It is very widespread and the majority [of victims] are young girls. Their [perpetrators'] attitude to sex, sexual abuse, what is right or not, is very distorted," said Sanna Bergendahl at Storasyster, a group working against sexual violence and abuse.