Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Child Porn in Sweden

I am in awe of The Local. It is such a great idea in its simplicity. Essentially they take news stories and just translate them and regurgitate them for all of the non-Swedish speakers. When I first moved here it was my Bible. My Koran. My Torah. (I’m very PC you know). Lately though, I just haven’t been that inclined to read The Local.

The last few days though I saw some things about the Swedish justice system that caught my eye. I bitch and moan about the Swedish justice system a lot. Life in prison doesn’t really mean life. Convicted murderers get furloughs and kill someone while away. Two to three millions pictures of child porn will only get you six months in prison. And so I needed to find in English, what I had been seeing in Swedish. I was not to be disappointed.

On November 2nd it was reported that Sweden would be overhauling their child pornography laws (Sweden to tighten child pornography laws). Just looking at child pornography will be illegal as opposed to the current law stating that you have to possess it. The government is even hoping to change the definition of child pornography. Any pictures of children under 18 will be considered child porn. Which seemed strange to me considering the age of consent in Sweden is 15, but I digress.

On November 3rd it was reported that a camp counselor accused of filming children naked in 2007 would not be punished for being a pervert (No penalty for man who filmed naked children). He managed to escape by fleeing to Thailand. Since then he has been hanging out waiting for the statute of limitations to run out all the while working as a school teacher in a different country. Awesome. But wait. It gets better. While doing all of this, and knowing that he could no longer be charged, the man requested that his video equipment be returned to him. You know, the video equipment that he had been using to film camp-goers in the sauna.

While I’m all for banning child porn, I’m concerned by the proposed laws for a couple of reasons. First, banning the viewing of something is a very slippery slope. There’s obviously the whole free speech argument, but I’m mostly concerned that some sicko will get away with this because he argues that he “accidentally” stumbled across some child porn. It just seems too vague to be effective.

The definition of child porn is also concerning. Mostly because of the fact that my mom was just explaining sexting to me. Yup. My mom explained sexting. “It’s what the kids are doing these days” were her words. Apparently some kid back home has now been labeled a sex offender for passing along a naked picture of a girl he went to school with. A girl who was under 18. Thus, child porn. He should be labeled an idiot but not a sex offender.

Then there’s the camp counselor. Who is now a teacher. And got all his video equipment back. There are just so many things wrong with that story. But what really gets me, aside from him getting his video equipment back (did I mention he got his damn video equipment back?) is the fact that the statue of limitations ran out after less than three years. He videotaped kids in the sauna while working as a camp counselor. He fled to Thailand, where Swedes go every year for vacation. H is now working as a teacher. And they can’t do anything about it.

If Sweden really wants to do something for child porn, increase the statute of limitations and snag this guy the second he gets anywhere near a country that will extradite him. And drop his video camera in the toilet.

Welcome to Sweden. And child pornography laws.

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25 comments:

  1. I love the Local. I know half the time the translations aren't quite complete (don't get me started when writing about a US scandal surrounding the words "nappy-headed" they managed to convey it as "diaper-headed"...oy), and that they handpick all the extra salacious stories, but reading the Local is my fun fluffy way to get news.

    But on topic, Sweden's legal code really dropped the ball when it came to this case. The statute of limitations really needs to be extended, and um, you really shouldn't give the equipment back to an unrepentant sicko who's probably going to go back out and film kids again.

    ~American fastmo

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  2. agreed. here's to hoping that they at least dropped the camera once while handing it over to the guy.

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  3. That camp counselor story really turns my stomach. UGH. It makes me livid. -S.

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  4. Of course he should get his equipment back, it's his and since they are not part of an active investigation and he has not been convicted of any crime they can not keep it and say "hey, we know that you might record kids in the sauna so we're gonna keep it." The police has to follow the law too you know. Plus he could just go out and get a new camera if he wanted to. And since Sweden got no extradition treaty with Thailand they can't just fly there and arrest him. But I agree, the statue of limitation on certain crimes should be increased. And I guess the police wont be busting in any doors if someone happened to end up on a porno site just once, instead you probably have to "stumble upon" that site numerous times. You are innocent until proven guilty and are entitled to a fair trial, that's the way the law have to work, not guilty if someone says so. (And no, I do not support child pornography and of course I want them convicted.)

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  5. I think one of the most important aspects of this you dismissed: how can it be child porn if you're under 18 when the age of consent is 15?

    The sexting case you brought up just shows how ridiculously stupid people can be when discussing sex, especially in the country where it happened. By the same reasoning, a fourteen year old boy who has sex with a fourteen year old girl can be convicted of statutory rape. What's so wrong with sex? And how is the boy an idiot for having naked pictures of a female classmate on his phone?

    Here, just handling childporn can get you in jail, even if you don't know what it is, which is retarded. But, as I already said, people still have these fucked up notions about sex, especially when it's their daughters or wives who take a role in it, much of it to do with the idea that we own women and or access to them. Then there's the whole notion of innocence that's rather naive. Yeah, kids should be careful about spreading diseases and unwanted/unplanned pregnancies when fooling around with each other, but Odin allmighty, they're young, ripe, and got enough hormones in em to kill someone twice their age. I'd rather have a society where kids are banging away at each other than spray painting four hundred year old buildings, vandalizing property in general, or hanging around parks and mucking 'em up with their presence. Maybe then they'd grow up not to be such tightwad, sexophobic idiots who become DAs, prosecutors, and legislators. That's one of the many paradoxes about Sweden; one only need look at their laws on prostitution, for example, to see it. You have yourself a sexual liberal country with a well educated population who has such moronic laws on sex trade; they might want to look over at their Icelandic cousins for some help with that particular issue.

    Was there any discussion about the punishments proposed for convicted persons of child pornography? Sexual criminals tend to be the most likely to be repeat offenders, and I don't see how throwing them in jail will make them better. Maybe some sort of rehabilitation, real rehabilitation where thinking people actually work with them, not throwing them in a locked building with a mix of other convicts, should be investigated. Novel idea, I know. I think there'd have to be some sort of scale too, because not all child related sexual crimes are equal; the guy caught masturbating in his car at a kid's park is a lot different than the guy who takes them home and forcefully rapes them. My point is there are far worse people than those who look at naked children, or record them with the video cameras, like that guy in Cleveland (in my home state shamefully enough) who has property that keeps turning up more and more bodies.

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  6. Very nice blog.

    A tip for you though. Leave Sweden. The Russians will invade soon, and they don't like Americans.

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  7. There is a negative aspect about the local tho, and that is that they mostly translate articles from media like Aftonbladet and Expressen.

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  8. Damn I admit to being a little worried about that Russian comment...

    Yeah these lax laws are my largest issue with this place. I was home last week and just ran around quoting all the non-punishments that I got off the local. Bottom line, if someone in the future were to rape or murder one of my children I sure as hell plan to take care of the situation myself. And then yes, I will leave Sweden so that statute of limitations can run out. I think working on a tropical beach would be lovely. My thought is the statute of limitations should not count while out of the country....

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  9. I don't particularly care for the laxed laws in Sweden as well. I almost feel ashamed when I talk about them over here (USA).

    As for definition of child-porn, I think a line needs to be drawn and that line needs to be VERY CLEAR of what is child porn.
    Not too long ago a married couple went to their local Walmart over here to have some pictures developed from their camera, the employees at the film-developing area found some pictures of 2-3 little girls taking a bath/having fun in the bathtub. They immediately called the cops and social services on the married couple who got their kids taken away from them and got arrested as well, without knowing what the hell was going on. Not until many wtf's and clearing out their names later, they children were returned but no apologies were handed out to the married couple.

    I have a couple of pictures of my son in the bathtub, playing and having fun (from his first bath to his first bubble bath). He's 1 years old. Should I be worried?
    Does it make me into pedophile mama?
    I remember a time when having pictures of kids in the bathtub was considered rather harmless.
    Now people shit their pants at any kind of pictures with children on them.

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  10. Perhaps this article on "Swedish Law and Justice" will add something to the conversation: http://pavellas.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/swedish-law-and-justice-is-different/

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  11. Hey, when you listen to professors they say the swedish punishments are about level with an average of the western-european countries.

    But then again, capital punishment and such is a big no-no if you want to join the European Union :-)

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  12. One of my mom's favorite pictures of me which she always kept on her desk: I'm walking on a rocky beach in my birthday suit, age 6 or 7. Full frontal nudity, but there's nothing sexual about it. Just a happy child in his own thoughts.

    It might still make some pervert excited, but that doesn't make it porn. Or it shouldn't. It seems all this hysteria and paranoia makes a lot of people into suspected criminals in other people's eyes. I think my mom put this picture in the drawer now just to avoid misunderstandings.

    Looking at a picture is criminal? Can you say thought crime?

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  13. Problematic as the issue is, and moronic as it may seem when seemingly obvious perverts slip through and escape the reach of the law and the punishment they deserve, I still prefer Sweden's current sex laws, to (per example) the draconian and orwellian way that the US punishes sex offenders.

    J.B

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  14. It's just so outrageous he fled and now hey i'm back! please return those equipments because first they mean so much to me and hell! you know how much difficulties i had in Thailand working with stupid Chinese equipments!

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  15. @anon - dude you're crazy. I don't know about all your claims but we at least put them behind bars for more than a minute. Most sex outright sex offenders do not change. I'm not talking about the stupid cases, I'm talking being convicted of multiple, violent rapes or rapes of children. There could not be a worse crime on earth b-c that usually messes a child up for life. I have someone close to me just murdered by a man who was repeatedly sexually abused as a child. This is common. So bite the bullet from the start and put people who begin a circle of crime away. For a loooong time. Or would you rather just protect the criminal?

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  16. One big problem is that a lot can be justified to "protect the children", such as censorship and surveillance. Another problem is... C'mon, it's not child porn if the person is 17! And what is child porn, exactly? A kid running around naked? Or a kid doing something sexual? A person isn't a pedophile if he's looking at 15-year olds, he is if he's looking at 10-year olds. I'd say 13-15 would be a good rule of thumb.

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  17. @m8surf

    If you think that harsh and encompassing laws only punish the guilty then I suggest you read up on the subject matter.

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  18. I guess I should follow up with an example of what I mean by draconian and orwellian (and might I add, ineffective):

    From The Economist (Aug 8, 2009)

    Georgia has more than 17,000 registered sex offenders. Some are highly dangerous. But many are not. And it is fiendishly hard for anyone browsing the registry to tell the one from the other. If there are thousands of offenders on a registry, it is harder to keep track of the most dangerous ones. Budgets are tight. Georgia’s sheriffs complain that they have been given no extra money or manpower to help them keep the huge and swelling sex-offenders’ registry up to date or to police its confusing mass of rules. Terry Norris of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association cites a man who was convicted of statutory rape two decades ago for having consensual sex with his high-school sweetheart, to whom he is now married. “It doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make him a threat to anybody,” says Mr Norris. “We spend the same amount of time on that guy as on someone who’s done something heinous.”

    J.B

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  19. How to categorize, punish and deter sex offenders and how to protect the public from them are thorny issues in every country. The US is working through them just like everyone else. As for this particular Swedish offender, Hairy, it sounds like you ire should be directed at the Swedish legislature, which enacted the legal code setting such a short statute of limitations, and not the courts, which can only enforce the laws on the books.

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  20. @Isle Dance – indeed.

    @anonymous – agreed.

    @anonymous – fine. Give him his equipment back. But please drop it while handing it over. Accidentally of course.

    @Bazarov – Im not sure how the age thing works, but its like that in several places. Not just Sweden.

    You are absolutely right though about the Swedish laws and attitudes when it comes to sex. They are confusing. It seems that they aren’t really sure how to balance the laws with their own attitudes about sex which just kind of confuses the matter.

    @anonymous – don’t worry. Ill pull out my Swedish passport and pretend.

    @anonymous – which is what makes it so genius though. Its just so simple

    @m8surf – the russians have been coming to sweden for years. Don’t be scared.

    Thats what always makes this so amazing to me. That so few people do take matters into their own hands. It happens, but very seldom.

    @Mamaya – you are absolutely right. There needs to be defined laws. Because stuff like you mentioned, that’s just ridiculous and something I have never understood. Probably because I ran around on Swedish beaches naked as a kid.

    @pavellas – good addition to the conversation.

    @Andreas – fair enough, although then you se things like this that make you really wonder.

    @anonymous – again, one of those things that I just dont get. But I suppose thats what makes it tricky. Little kids running around naked isn’t weird. Dirty men filming them without their knowledge in saunas is.

    @anonymous – not me. At least not the sick ones.

    @tod – thats what gets me too. The brazen disregard. It was the ultimate screw you moment for that guy I think.

    @m8 – agreed.

    @anonymous – again, tats what makes things so tricky with this sort of issue. Where do you draw the line? If the age of consent is 15 what is to say that child porn is under 18?

    @anonymous – sweden sometimes seems to favor the criminal over the victim. And I dont agree. So harsh is ok by me sometimes.

    @JB – ok that makes more sense. Because youre right, those that get stuck on the registry for streaking while in college or something along those lines, thats just ridiculous.

    @Laura – you’re right, and my ire is directed at them. Although I have plenty of ire for the pervert himself.

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  21. The best definition of illegal "child" erotica was said by a woman who worked for MI-5 being interviewed on the BBC after the arrest of members of a worldwide network. She said that it is illegal, and rightfully so, because the videos and/or photographs are of actual crimes: children too small to consent being sexually assaulted. That should be the only standard. If no law is being broken and if no one is being unreasonably harmed during the "act" then the video or photograph of the "act" cannot be considered illegal. The MI-5 individual went on to say that she had no problem with a 15 year old young man engaging in sexual activity via a webcam with his girlfriend. Yet in the US, that young man (as well as his girlfriend) would technically be guilty of a felony.

    It gets more tragically ridiculous in the US. A man was recently convicted of these crimes for importing anime books from Japan that had drawings of children in situations that were found objectionable by the US government.

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  22. but if that is the only standard then someone sneaking around taking pitures of naked kids isn't doing anything illegal since they are technically not being harmed. except theres the whole not old enough to consent to pictures. and any possible psychological problems in the future. and then theres the whole thing with people then disseminating those pictures.

    but you're right, it can get pretty amn ridiculous sometimes.

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  23. Under-teens have been arrested for rape of other kids. How can under-teens do that? These are the not victims of pornographers, these are kids who are free people make stupid mistakes just like adults do. Is there any significance to the fact under-teens have consensual sex?

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  24. Im sure there is some sort of sociological phd thesis in that question. short answer, I have no idea.

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