Sex Buyers Get a "Rebate" on the Fine

Buying sex is illegal in Sweden, but many of those who are caught get a fine that is too low, according to a survey made by Swedish Radio's Kaliber.

The fine is supposed to be linked to the income of the person convicted - but it rarely is. One of the clearest examples is when a then mayor of a municipality in Stockholm was convicted for trying to buy sex from a 17 year old girl. In his sentence, he was only given the lowest possible fine, of just over 200 US dollars. Instead, a ten times higher fine had been more in accordance with the law.

And he is not alone. The radio programme Kaliber has looked at 186 cases where the convicted sex buyer has been sentenced directly by the prosecutor - in a process chosen by many of these convicts - as they thereby can avoid a trial.

In just over half of these cases, 96 of them, the fine was too low. Many in this group are high earners and end of paying thousands of dollars too little.

Madeleine Leijonhufvud, professor in criminal law, is surprised at the findings, but tells the radio programme that she thinks this shows that the crime is seen as less serious. "It cannot be a coincidence that there are these big rebates for this particular crime," Leijonhufvud says.

Deputy Prosecutor Birgitta Tholander Werne at Stockholm City's Public Prosecution Office tells Kaliber that one reason for the discrepancy could be that those fined have not stated their income correctly. It is possible to check peoples income at the tax office, but according to Birgitta Tholander Werne the prosecution does not "have these routines. It would take a lot of time".

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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