Thursday, September 19, 2013

Swedish judge exhibits the wisdom of Solomon

This sounds like a real-life episode of the 1990s television comedy series Seinfeld. Maybe this is how the proverbial 60-year-old Swedes (or 65, in this case) stay in shape. As reported by the Swedish English-language site The Local, September 12, 2013:

A man who openly masturbated on a Stockholm beach has been acquitted of sexual assault in court after it was ruled he was not targeting a specific person, with the prosecutor saying it's "okay" to play with yourself in public.

The incident occurred on June 6th at the Drevviken beach when the man removed his shorts and began masturbating close to the water. He was subsequently charged with sexual assault.

The SΓΆdertΓΆrn District Court has now acquitted the 65-year old in a judgement which stated that it "may be proven that the man exposed himself and masturbated on this occasion".

However, the court added that no offence had been committed as the masturbating man was not pleasuring himself towards a specific person.

Public prosecutor Olof Vrethammar told the Mitti newspaper that he wasn't planning to appeal the ruling.

"For this to be a criminal offence it's required that the sexual molestation was directed towards one or more people. I think the court's judgement is reasonable," he said.

When asked if it was now acceptable to masturbate in public if you don't direct it towards a specific individual the prosecutor said it was "okay."

"The district court has made a judgement on this case. With that we can conclude that it is okay to masturbate on the beach. The act may be considered to be disorderly conduct."

In another recent judgement a 15-year-old boy was acquitted after being previously charged with sexual assault. The teen had thrown his underwear into a lake and stood naked in front of two under-age girls.

The SΓΆdertΓΆrn District Court said that his behaviour did not have a sexual undertone and the charge was dismissed. Both the girls had requested the boy be charged with molestation.
And as reported by Helen Collis in the London Daily Mail, September 18, 2013:

Sweden, like its Scandinavian neighbours, tends to have a more tolerant and sometimes progressive approach to social issues.

But this landmark ruling raises concerns over the extent to which people will take advantage of the freedom to masturbate with impunity in public.

Dr Liz Davies, a Reader in Child Protection at London Metropolitan University who has carried out research into Sweden's child protection system, said she thought this ruling was surprising.

'Sweden has a really robust child protection system and very rigorous investigation around sexual abuse.

'So this judgement is surprising given that such an act could be witnessed by children as well as adults' she said...

...In the UK anyone who masturbates in public or exposes themself in any way faces an indecent exposure charge.
I infer from this story that Sweden, unlike countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada, has no law covering (pun intended) indecent exposure. This case shows a problem with not having such laws--a country with such liberal views on morality as Sweden probably doesn't think it worthy of its liberal open-mindedness to legislate against such trivial behaviour as "taking it out."

However, when such an incident occurs and a charge is deemed necessary, because there's no minor moral offense he can be charged with, he gets charged with the major offense of sexual assault, which is ridiculously out of proportion to the offense. The judge accordingly renders an acquittal because no real assault has taken place--although, in this case, the media reports don't state what evidence was actually presented in court. The offender is freed, and an unpleasant precedent is set. In countries where indecent exposure is in the criminal code the offender would be convicted and given an appropriate punishment, even if that punishment is just a fine, and the criminal may possibly be registered as a sex offender.

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