In Sweden, three foreign-born men were arrested for gang-raping a woman and broadcasting the incident on Facebook Live.
The incident occurred on January 22 in Uppsala, a town less than 50 miles north of Stockholm, Sweden. The three men, ages 18, 20, and 24, used a webcam to film the group assault and sexual abuse of the female victim.
One person who saw the incident live-streamed told Sweden’s newspaper Expressen, “I first thought it was a poorly orchestrated joke.”
Witness Josefine Lundgren, 21, immediately called the police upon seeing the broadcast. Police were dispatched to the apartment and arrested the men while they were filming a follow-up video with the victim. The gang-rape, follow-up video, and police intervention were all captured on a Facebook Live feed.
“He pulled her clothes off and lay on top of her,” described Lundgren.
Swedish media released images of the three men waving a revolver and taunting the woman.
The BBC reports that one of the men said, “You have been raped,” and then laughed.
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Another witness, Linda Johansson, described the follow-up broadcast where the perpetrators attempted to persuade the woman to deny the gang rape.
“My heart broke. They put the girl in front of the camera, but the guy who filmed tried to persuade her to deny she had been raped. He was putting words into her mouth. He was taunting and laughing throughout the whole clip.”
Swedish authorities are currently waiting for Facebook to comply with an order to release live footage of the incident in order to proceed with the investigation. The men will be held for a minimum of two more weeks while the investigation into the incident continues. Prosecutors say that all three deny taking part in a rape.
Two of the men are citizens of Afghanistan and the third is a Swedish citizen whose birthplace is unknown. The incident has heightened tensions between Swedish natives and Sweden’s migrant Muslim population.
Jerzy Sarnecky, a criminologist at Stockholm University, told USA Today that the incident has outraged Swedish citizens and fueled anti-immigrant rhetoric.
“There’s been total outrage about this case in Sweden. The fact that these men may not have been born in this country has made it of great interest to opponents of immigration. This kind of event fuels the xenophobic discussion.”
Approximately 163,000 people from North Africa and the Middle East sought asylum in Sweden in 2016. Last year, Sweden allowed more migrants and refugees to immigrate to the country than any other European nation. The number was also higher than the country has ever allowed in its entire history, including during the Balkan wars in the 1990s.
The large influx of immigrants has caused tensions with Sweden’s native population. A report from Sweden’s public broadcasting network STV found that out of 163,000 migrants, less than 500 were working.
This is partially due to Sweden’s strong economy, which pays all workers a living wage and does not offer many part-time or unskilled labor opportunities. Therefore, it can be difficult for non-Swedish speaking migrants who lack technical skills to find employment.
The gang rape incident also drew attention to a growing problem of sexual assault in Sweden. Sweden has the highest number of rapes reported by any European country and the second highest number or rapes reported anywhere in the world, surpassed only by South Africa.
This is partially due to Sweden’s definition of rape and sexual assault which includes more examples than most other countries. However, many see a correlation between Sweden’s rise in crime and the rise in a poor, migrant population.
The result has been exacerbated tensions and political disagreements. The Facebook Live broadcast of a Swedish woman gang-raped by migrants was a tragic incident.
[Featured Image by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]