Falu district court in central Sweden ruled one man and 23 women guilty of child pornography crimes, reports news agency TT. The 43-year-old man was sentenced to one year in prison for serious crimes of child pornography, whilst all the women were found guilty on a lesser charge of child pornography and received a mixture of fines and conditional sentences.
Never before had so many women faced trial for child pornography in Sweden. According to Interpol, only 1 percent at the most of those involved in child porn rings is women, a statistic that makes this case extremely unusual and has drawn international interest.
The court found the man guilty of being the ringleader, initiating contact with the women and sending the pornographic material to them over a number of years.
Although the court decided that the women had chosen to receive the material and were responsible for their own actions, it also said that most of them were not well balanced individuals and that the man had taken advantage of this.
The child pornography ring was uncovered by police a year ago. Around 1000 pictures and 40 films were discovered on the man’s computer. Some of these were particularly exploitative and abusive.
The man contacted the women separately via an internet chat sight and then started sending them the material once he judged that they would be receptive to it. There was no connection between the women. During the trial the prosecutor used some of these chats as evidence that the women knew the nature of what they were receiving and that many of them were interested in sex with children. Two of the women themselves took pictures of children and sent them to the man.
The women are aged between 38 and 70-years-old and come from all over Sweden. Some are single, whilst others are married.
The case has raised uncomfortable questions about women and child pornography and paedophilia.
Olof Risberg is a psychologist and psychotherapist who works with the question of child pornography. He believes that we don't want to accept that sexual exploitation of children by women happens and that the subject is taboo.
“We have the stereotype idea that women, and especially the mother, is kind of sacred and she doesn’t have the capacity to commit any crime like this, but now we know that women can also be offenders.”
Risberg believes that we partly have ourselves to blame for being naïve and only seeing men as potential offenders.
That there were so many women involved in this case has, believes Risberg, forced us to confront this taboo and accept the reality of it.
“We have to be more open and talk about the issues,” Risberg says.