January 03, 2011

Assange and Sex by Surprise

This post continues my examination of the general wrongness that is some of the arguments being made by Assange supporters wishing to dismiss the rape allegations against him. Before commenting here, you should read the rest of these:

Assange and Real Rape
Assange and the Victim Conspiracy
Assange and the Presumption of Innocence
How Must She Behave to Have Been Raped?

Part 4: Swedes have some unheard of "sex by surprise" law they're using against Assange!
I wasn't expecting to have to write this post. I thought this issue was done when the charges for which the Swedes were requesting Assange be arrested were read out in a British court. I should have known that no bad information dies in a situations like this. But no, just two days ago:

The original Swedish charges were for Sexual Surprise- a term that doesn't have an equivalent here in the US and that carried a $750 fine. There is nothing in the original post that supports a charge of rape or assault--if you define rape as an act of sexual violence and assault as an act of physical violence.

The myth has merely morphed from "Assange is being charged with this ludicrous crime" to "Assange was charged with this ludicrous crime before...something happened." However, despite the attempts to continue to fit it into the evolving reality of the legal process, it simply isn't true. Assange is wanted for questioning on charges of molestation and rape, just as he was before the chief prosecutor had the original charges dismissed.

Complaint number 1 K246314-10
The information from interrogation with the complaintant, is as already reported, of such, that there is no longer a suspicion of rape. This does not mean that I do not trust her information. I have studied the content of the interrogation, to decide whether there is a suspicion of another crime, in first hand molestation or sexual molestation, but I find in my analysis that this is not the case. Therefore the preliminary investigation is closed concerning this complaint as there is not suspicion of crime.

Complaint number 2 K246336-10
Suspicion about molestation remains. I will instruct the investigator to interrogate the suspect.

That matches what was read out in the British courts. No "sex by surprise" in either case.

The only surprise available in the description of the alleged crimes comes from allegations that Assange started having sex with one of the women while she was asleep. However, the section of Swedish law that covers that is not remotely like the description we're given in the myth. From a translation:

Chapter 6

Section 1

A person who by assault or otherwise by violence or by threat of a criminal act forces another person to have sexual intercourse or to undertake or endure another sexual act that, having regard to the nature of the violation and the circumstances in general, is comparable to sexual intercourse, shall be sentenced for rape to imprisonment for at least two and at most six years.

This shall also apply if a person engages with another person in sexual intercourse or in a sexual act which under the first paragraph is comparable to sexual intercourse by improperly exploiting that the person, due to unconsciousness, sleep,intoxication or other drug influence, illness, physical injury or mental disturbance, or otherwise in view of the circumstances in general, is in a helpless state. If, in view of the circumstances associated with the crime, a crime provided for in the first or second paragraph is considered less aggravated, a sentence to imprisonment for at most four years shall be imposed for rape. If a crime provided for in the first or second paragraph is considered gross, a sentence to imprisonment for at least four and at most ten years shall be imposed for gross rape.

In assessing whether the crime is gross, special consideration shall be given to whether the violence or threat was of a particularly serious nature or whether more than one person assaulted the victim or in any other way took part in the assault or whether the perpetrator having regard to the method used or otherwise exhibited particular ruthlessness or brutality.

That's just plain old rape, with a prison term. And there's nothing revolutionary about the wording of that law. So where does the term "sex by surprise" come from? Simple:

"Sex by surprise" or överraskningssex as it would be translated in Swedish is slang for rape. It is a term that is used when speaking about rape, but jokingly, or keeping it light, a word that brings with it positive connotations, which makes the word inappropriate in itself, but it is nevertheless synonymous with rape.

So the people who are spreading this around are presenting slang as legal charges. If you're one of them, knock it off. When even Urban Dictionary knows what's going on here, you're only embarrassing yourself if you keep repeating this.

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