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Major Swedish Sex Survey Reveals 'Strikingly Common' Abuse

According to the largest survey of its kind in decades, almost half of all Swedish women have experienced sexual harassment. The same study identified men aged 16-29 as the least sexually satisfied group.

In an extensive population study on sexual and reproductive health and rights, the largest in over 20 years, the Swedish Publish Health Authority has found that sexual harassment and abuse are “strikingly common” and pose a “major public health problem”.

The study also revealed major differences between men and women concerning sexuality, dubbed “an important part of life that affects health, well-being and self-esteem”.

Almost half of the women in the survey and one-tenth of the men stated that they were at some time subjected to sexual harassment. About 40 percent of women admitted to having suffered from some other form of sexual abuse. Another 11 percent of the women and 1 percent of the men said they'd been subjected to physical violence by those attempting to have intercourse with them.

“The fact that sexual harassment is so common in Sweden is remarkable. It not only has consequences for the individual, but is also a clear marker for how equal a society is,” the heads of the Swedish Publish Health Authority wrote in a column in the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, presenting the results of the survey.

Considerably more men than women (28 percent and 18 percent respectively), believe that they do not get enough sex. At the same time, 20 percent of women say they feel too tired or stressed out to have sex, compared to 10 percent of men.

READ MORE: Migrant Crime Under Scrutiny in Sweden Amid 'Great Demand'

Wholly 70 percent of the men in the survey admitted to watching porn, while about the same number of women said they never watch it. The researchers found a need to investigate and discuss the consequences of pornography.

Although the majority of the respondents said that they can communicate freely about sex, almost twice as many women (63 percent compared with 34 percent), have agreed to have unwanted sex. The reasons they cited included doing it for their partner's sake, for the sake of the relationship or to have children.

Almost one-tenth of the Swedish men surveyed have paid or given other compensation for sex; 80 percent of men who have paid for sex have done so abroad. Among women, less than 1 percent admitted to having done so. It is illegal in Sweden to purchase sex but selling it is not prohibited (this is known as the Nordic Model of banning prostitution).

Over the past year, about one-third of Swedes have had sex at least once a week, one-third about one to three times a month, while about one-fifth have not had any sex at all, the survey showed.

More women than men cited a lack of desire for sex due to tiredness or stress, claimed that they didn't have orgasms and admitted to having unwanted sex. Men, on the other hand, were more likely to say that they lacked a sex partner, wanted more sex partners or said they don't have sex the way they want.

A majority of the respondents, 58 percent, stated they were satisfied with their sex life. The least satisfied were men aged 16-29 and people between 65 and 84 years of age from both sexes.

According to Suzann Larsdotter of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU), the results are in line with other studies about sexuality.

“Women feel that they have the right to say yes or no, or decide what sex to have. At the same time, there is no reciprocity in pleasure, as women receive orgasms to a lesser extent and have less desire. Therefore, one has to go deeper than just the question of consent. Is there mutual pleasure and what consequences does the lack thereof lead to?” Larsdotter told national broadcaster SVT.

The present study is based on a national questionnaire answered by 14,500 people aged 16-84.

Since the last major study, “Sex in Sweden”, published in 1996, Sweden has undergone important changes, including the ban on the purchase of sexual services and new sex crime legislation; it also became one of the most active members of the international anti-harassment #MeToo movement.

READ MORE: 'What Is OK Sex?': Sweden's Education Site For Migrants Becomes Global Hit

All these factors are sometimes cited as the reasons for the rising sex crime curve, with 2018 becoming the record year with 7,556 reported rapes. However, unofficial reports also weigh in immigration.

In late 2017, an independent report suggested that migrants, who by conservative estimates from Statistics Sweden constituted about a fourth of the country's population, were severely over-represented in crimes of a sexual nature, accounting for over 90 percent of rapes and gang rapes.

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