Defenseless and exploited – sexual crimes against particularly vulnerable

The case in Linköping

Several women with intellectual disabilities are raped by a 29-year-old man they know, or know, but he pretends to be someone else when they are seen. Someone who is identical to him in appearance.

And according to prosecutor Elin Åkerberg, the investigation shows that the 29-year-old suspect has found a way to take advantage of the women’s vulnerable position.

– They have had a hard time sifting through the information he has provided, and it has been difficult to defend themselves against these lies that he has conveyed to them via these profiles. And it may have something to do with their intellectual disabilities, that it was difficult to see what was true and false. This is something that the perpetrator has used.

People with intellectual disabilities should be given priority

Within the police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, people with intellectual disabilities are highlighted as a group that should be given priority. And research shows that they are more exposed to sexual violence than others, and they may have difficulty absorbing information and understanding and answering questions. The plaintiff’s counsel who represented the victims in Linköping, Ulrika Wangle, has herself worked both within the Public Prosecutor’s Office and as a civilian investigator at the police. She believes that the lack of specialization and deeper knowledge risks affecting legal certainty.

– If you do not have that competence, then I also see that there are shortcomings in the preliminary investigation, which means that you may not be able to pursue an investigation, or that it leads to a prosecution. And it also means that you may not then, as a person with an intellectual disability, notice that it is worth reporting, because it does not lead anywhere.

“Believes in a broad knowledge increase”

Prosecutor Elin Åkerberg, who worked with the case in Linköping, also sees a need for skills development.

– Specialist knowledge is often good, at the same time I think that these are crime victims that we encounter quite often and then it is good if everyone has some knowledge of how to deal with people with intellectual disabilities. So I believe in a broad increase in knowledge anyway, within the authorities.

Eva Johnsson is deputy chief prosecutor and works at the Public Prosecutor’s Office’s development center, and says that people with invisible disabilities are a group that should be prioritized, and that the guidance produced is research-based, but there may still be reason to review it, she believes.

– As you raise this issue now, it emerges that there are internal wishes and then we must look at whether we need to review our methodological support and improve it, we must review whether there is a need for further education because it is very important that these people with these functional variations that we know occur, are allowed to speak in the right way. They must be dealt with in the right way and they must be allowed to be heard in the right way, whether they are victims or perpetrators.

There are currently no national guidelines or special directives, but it is very different how the country’s municipalities do in their work against men’s violence against women, where this is included.
In recent years, Östersund has worked actively with preventive work. Among other things, by training the staff within the LSS operations and having meetings with residents. And the theme for the next meeting is six for a fee, as this is something that curator Alexandra Woxlägd encounters in her work:

– I meet women who have sought love based on sexual contact, via often different social media, where they are then asked if they want to perform different sexual services for a fee.

“Before anything happens”

At the same time, the police in Alingsås have started a crime prevention project, “Before anything happens.” Investigator Ekblad-Sjölund and child interrogation leader Susanne Karlsson are working on the project.

– There were relatively many cases with intellectually disabled people, and we said that “this is not wise!”. And we felt that they are very unprotected and vulnerable. And in the end we came to the conclusion that we must try to do something about it, it can not be like this, says Susanne Karlsson.

The police began to collect reports and investigations concerning people with intellectual disabilities.

– Here we have about fifty cases where we have sexual offenses, and where one of the parties, or both, have an intellectual disability.

Statistics are important, says Eva Ekblad-Sjölund.

– When we went to our boss here in our local police area, it was his first question: “What do the statistics look like?” And there are no statistics to retrieve. There is no criminal code where you can see that there is an intellectual disability that occurs, nor is there any marking anywhere in our work systems that we have, we work in a system called Durtvå, and there is nowhere where you can mark it, but then we had to say that we had these cases that we have found, and as I said yes, a 45-50 cases.

“May be privacy sensitive”

It is the Crime Prevention Council, Brå, that creates new crime codes, but the initiative must come from the authorities, says Linn Brandelius, who is a statistician at Brå:

– We get requests from the police, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Economic Crime Authority, those who work to investigate crimes. But then they in turn receive demands from the government to follow up on crimes, and most often requests come from such types of demands.

At the Public Prosecutor’s Office, this is also an issue that is on Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva Johansson’s table. She sees risks with crime coding of this kind:

– It can be sensitive to privacy, that based on first a lay assessment, we should code whether a person has an intellectual disability or not.

And the more codes a crime has, the worse the quality of the coding is, according to Brå.

Anna Lindström is a business developer when it comes to the police’s work with sexual crime investigations. And she says as chief prosecutor Eva Johnsson that crime coding can be sensitive based on the issue of integrity.

– There are so many different people we meet. We meet these people where it is important for us to improve, we have people with substance abuse problems, we have mental illness, and so on. And since we do not have that crime coding, but that, as I said, we code crime based on the crime areas, so this is not a simple question, I feel.

But now it is raised from both the police and municipalities the need for more coordination and that you should do more equal across the country, what do you think about that?

– Yes, but it’s something we get to take with us and look at.

Reporter: Lisbeth Hermansson
Producer:
Johan Sundström
Techniques and final mix:
Henrik Henriksson
Host:
Annika H Eriksson

Source: ICELAND NEWS


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