Snapped Up #3


Real children on the loose

Two boys were stopped by security guards at Malmö central station, Sydsvenskan reports. The boys had escaped from a refugee home and gone with the train without paying. One guard pushed down one of the boys, aged nine, on the stone floor and smashed his head against it several times. Witnesses rushed to the scene and filmed the rest (but no one intervened). The movie (currently 3 million views on youtube) shows how the boy is screaming and crying while trying to free himself.

Media are critical when asking questions to the station’s management and the security company which employs the guards. “But it’s only a child”, the reporter says. “We have caught two criminals”, they reply.

One wonders if it is the inflation of the word “child” that made it so easy for the security company to shake off the allegations of having abused a “child”. After the word “child” came to mean everyone under the age of 18, it started to lose its meaning. Yet it seems that both media and people think that it’s more serious when a nine year old (maybe we should call it a “real child”?) is beaten up by a guard than when a 17 year old is.

People are obviously able to differentiate within the span called “child” in this case. Funny, because in some other cases, people don’t seem to be able to make this distinction.

“America’s youngest gay kiss”

You can watch it at Milkboys. Of the two boys, one is clearly casted as the “boy next door”, whereas the other is, even more clearly, the little queen next door. If you close your eyes, the dialogue sounds like that of an average straight couple:

“What are you doing?”

“Sorry, Daryl just texted me. He wants to know if I wanna come over.”

“Do you?”

“I mean, what else is there to do?”

(Sighs) “You should go then. If you want to.”

“No it’s fine, I don’t have to.”

“Whatever. Just go.”

And gay people get mad when straights ask “who’s the woman”?

EU passes feel-good resolution

The European Parliament has passed a resolution – B8‑0227/2015 European Parliament resolution on child sex abuse images online (2015/2564 RSP) – in which it says it wants to “fight child sexual abuse on the Internet”.

(Resolutions are not binding, but rather serve to show in which direction EU countries and institutions should act.)

The resolution is full of beautiful words that hardly mean anything at all, as in point 2 and 3:

2. The European Parliament calls on the Commission and on the Member States to strengthen cooperation among law enforcement authorities within the Member States and between them, with a view to investigating and dismantling child sex offender networks more effectively, while prioritising the rights and safety of the children involved; in all such activity the best interests of the child must be the paramount consideration;

3. The European Parliament stresses the need for a comprehensive approach within the Member States and between the Member States in order to protect the rights and best interests of children to the maximum extent possible, to ensure effective protections, consistency, encompassing the fight against crime, cybersecurity, consumer protection and fundamental rights;

Who would not agree that “the rights and best interests of children” should be protected “to the maximum extent possible”? The resolution says obvious things and most of it doesn’t demand anything on a more concrete level. Its purpose seems to be to make its authors feel good for “doing something” about the abused children.

In the areas where the resolution actually suggests something, it seems that it wants private companies to act as law enforcing institutions (my emphasis):

4. The European Parliament …

  • recognises the different roles, duties and responsibilities of the state and private industry including in respect of investigation, prosecution, the right to privacy and data protection;
  • calls for an effective working relationship and, subject to proper legal and judicial oversight and in respect of what is lawful and necessary in the best interests of the child and for the protection of children from child sex abuse online, information exchange between law enforcement agencies, other appropriate state duty bearers, judicial authorities, and when appropriate and necessary and in compliance with the law, the ICT industry, internet service providers (ISPs), the banking sector and non-governmental organisations, including youth and children’s organisations, with a view to ensuring the rights and protection of children online and regarding them as vulnerable persons under the law;
  • calls on the Commission to take the initiative of asking all the Member States to take action to tackle all forms of cyber predation and cyber bullying;

The phrase “in respect of what is … in the best interests of the child” can probably justify just about anything, in the area of this “effective working relationship” – otherwise it would have been enough to stop at “lawful”. Say hello to the private cops from Ecpat. Or maybe you already met them.

Another interesting wording can be seen in point 5:

5. The European Parliament …

  • stresses that measures limiting fundamental rights on the internet need to be necessary and proportionate, in line with Member State and European legislation and in compliance with the child’s rights under the UNCRC;
  • recalls that illegal online content should be deleted immediately on the basis of due legal process;
  • recalls that removal of illegal online content, in which the ICT industry plays a certain role, can only take place after judicial authorisation;

Human rights watchdog HAX comments:

So, the European Parliament just said that it’s OK to limit fundamental rights on the Internet? I think it did. If so, naturally it’s a good thing that it’s going to be done under rule of law and after due process. But is it at all acceptable to limit our fundamental rights? The reason they are called “fundamental” is that they should not be limited. At all. Ever.

One can also note that the paragraphs about deleting content are totally meaningless; as if any member state acts in any other way when encountering illegal content.

Sex with a 13 year old legal in Sweden

A man, 27, who had sex with a 13-year-old girl, who lived at his place for some days after they had met in a park, has been acquitted by the second highest court in Sweden, after first also having been acquitted by a regional court.

The reason is that he says he didn’t know the girl was 13. He claims she looked 15-17. And the court, who watched videos of the police interrogation with the girl, agrees. She’s “physically very well developed”, they conclude. Intent is an important part of Swedish jurisdiction, and the court concludes that the man did not have any intent to commit a crime by having sex with someone under 15.

An “expert” on rapes is interviewed by the Swedish Radio. She is very critical, saying that “a nine-year-old child can use her mother’s make-up and suddenly look 25”. Yeah, right! It’s funny how often commenters do not comment on the actual situation – in this case a 13 year old (illegal) who looked 15 to 17 (legal) – but instead exaggerate to create a more upsetting picture in the listeners’ head. Critics of this magazine often used that rhetorical figure. (source)

In Sweden, sex with someone under the age of 15 is called “rape of a child”, no matter the circumstances. It’s a bit like the American expression “statutory rape”, but with the difference that everyone knows that “statutory rape” usually is not real rape, whereas the Swedish description of the crime makes people think of a terrible deed.

It’s not clear yet whether the verdict will be appealed to the supreme court.

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