Dissertation project: The real rape - the application of Swedish rape laws 1965-2022

Research project
Active research
Project size
2 391 0000
Project period
2021 - 2024
Project owner
Department of Sociology and Work Science

Short description

The aim of the project is to study the historical development, from 1965 until the present, of the implications of rape myths, and their inherent ideas of gender and sexuality, in Swedish criminal laws on rape and in the legal application of these laws. During this period, notions of rape have shifted from the assumption that rape could not be committed within the marriage to the fact that mutual voluntariness is today the starting point for judicial assessment of rape.

The study is conducted from a combined feminist and emotion-sociological perspective with a focus on how rape myths - notions of gender, sexuality, the "real rape" and the "real rape victim" - can be traced in sources and judgments and how they have changed over time. The point of departure is in the perspective of the implications for victims. The project will contribute with knowledge about the existence and function of rape myths and the shifting perceptions of rape victims (and accused) in a time in history where the feminist movement has been influential in the transformation of gendered stereotypes at large. It will thus also contribute with knowledge about how rape legislation and its application reflect societal changes, as well as how legislation and legal application of laws may be an instrument in the enforcement of changes in norms and values of the surrounding society. It also deepens the knowledge of legal challenges in rape cases as part of the invisibilization of body and emotions. The data collection will consist of historical and contemporary written judgements, expert statements, preparatory works, legislative works, newspaper debate articles, as well as interviews with senior legal professionals.


Marie Sundström, Doctoral Student, email:

Sara Uhnoo, Senior Lecturer, project leader, email: