Heather Conn Blogs

spoutin’ about by the sea

Victims of sexual abuse need regulations with teeth — no more silence »« Firing of Weinstein a shift in culture regarding sexual harassment?

Like Sweden’s current test case, Canada needs to expand the definition of “rape”

When I travelled through Sweden decades ago, I felt that its social welfare laws made North America’s look like the Dark Ages. Almost every large business had a day-care centre. Both husbands and wives received pregnancy leave. The Scandinavian nation’s high tax base comfortably covered many progressive social benefits, from health and unemployment insurance to old-age pensions.

Therefore, it didn’t surprise me to learn this week that Sweden could soon be legally redefining the term “rape.” A man is on trial in that country for raping girls in Canada and two other countries completely over the internet, without any physical contact between him and the alleged victims.

Bjorn Samstrom, 41, of Uppsala, Sweden, is accused of threatening to kill girls he met over social networks or post photos of them on pornography sites if they didn’t perform sex acts, including bestiality, in front of webcams.

He’s been charged with “gross rape” and other offences that relate to 27 victims in North America and Britain. Alleged victims include 13-year-olds in Ontario and Alberta, who were victimized in late 2015.

My heart goes out to these young, scared teens.

I applaud the potential power of this case. If the prosecution wins, internet predators will face harsh consequences for their actions instead of remaining silent abusers. Swedish law already makes rape the most serious form of sexual crime, defining it as any sexual violation as serious as intercourse.

Internet abusers must end up paying for their crimes. So far, it’s the terrified victims who suffer, like 15-year-old Amanda Todd who committed suicide in Port Coquitlam in 2012 after she was bullied and blackmailed into exposing her breasts via a webcam.

It’s time that Canada follows Sweden’s example and broadens its legal definition of sexual assault to involve abuse over the internet.

(The National Post reported on this story on Oct. 6 on page NP1.)

October 9, 2017 at 4:40 pm
Leave a Reply