University of Gothenburg
Rape or consent?
Photo: Unsplash

Rape or consent? Effects of the new rape legislation on legal reasoning and practice

The Swedish rape legislation reform in 2017 adopted a requirement of voluntariness (popularly “consent”). This project is the first to study the new rape legislation and the dynamics between it and institutionalised legal culture. The aim is to study the application of the rape law from a combined feminist and emotion-sociological perspective, focusing on the emotive-cognitive reasoning of prosecutors, judges and lawyers about the law and its implications.

  • What discursive perceptions and interpretations do legal actors present in interviews, and how do they reason about the application of the new law?
  • How does the new legislation affect trial procedures in practice, regarding focus on the accused/victim, and the construction and presentation of evidence?
  • How do judges operate the new legislation when writing judgements: what perceptions and assessments about voluntariness, gender and sexuality are reflected in the written judgements?

We follow 16 cases of rape in district court and the appeals court. Legal actors are interviewed and shadowed, trials are observed, written judgements are analysed. The project enhances the knowledge of legal discrimination as part of how processes of silencing emotions interact with gendered power structures. It contributes to developing the emotive-cognitive reflexivity of legal professionals regarding tacit norms and routinized behaviour. This is important in order to further strengthen the legitimacy of the legal system.


Åsa Wettergren, project leader

Moa Bladini, Department of Law

Sara Uhnoo


Capricious credibility – legal assessments of voluntariness in Swedish negligent rape judgements, Lisa Wallin, Sara Uhnoo, Åsa Wettergren & Moa Bladini, Nordic Journal of Criminology, published online 12 March, 2021