Much attention had been drawn in recent years to the over-representation of Muslims or non-Western immigrants in rape statistics. In this study I wanted to check whether Muslims were responsible for most rapes, whether it is true that Muslim women were rarely attacked, and whether there is a rape epidemic in Norway.
I use the following terms in this study:
* sexual crimes - this includes rape and incest as well as sexual intercourse by threat, sexual violations, pornography and sexual acts with children.
* rape - as defined by Norwegian law. The law was changed in 2000, and this change is reflected in the statistics starting from 2001.
* Immigrants - Norway Statistics define an immigrant as a person who has two foreign born parents. The immigrant population in Norway is estimated to be 8.9% of the population (415,000). There are 23% immigrants in Oslo.
* Non-western immigrants - according to the Norway Statistics definition this includes Asia (including Turkey), Africa, South and Central America and Eastern Europe. All together they make up 6.6% of the total population (about 310,000). There are about 19% non-Western immigrants in Oslo.
Muslims are estimated to be 120,000 - 150,000 people, which is about 2.5-3% of the total population in Norway. In the case of Muslims, it is 'pretty safe' to estimate that most of them are included under "non-Western immigrants". According to the marriage patterns reports, Muslims tend to marry within their own community, and therefore continue to stay under the "immigrant" category. The exceptions are Iraq and Iran with about 20% intermarriage rate. Both Somalis and Pakistanis have a very low intermarriage rate with ethnic Norwegians.
How many Muslims live in Oslo? According to Norway Statistics, about half of the 'registered' Muslim live in the Oslo area. If I extrapolate to the total number of Muslims that could mean about 60,000-75,000 Muslims which is about 10-13% of the city's population. Since Muslims are estimated to be about 40-50% of the non-Western immigrants nationally, I could extrapolate this to Oslo as well, which would mean roughly 7-10% of the city's population. For the moment, I have no factual information.
ProblematicsThere are quite a few problems when researching rape. Rape is a shameful crime, and many women hesitate to complain about it. According to one study I have read, barely 5% of rapes are reported. Additionally, studies have shown that Muslim women in particular do not report rape.
Then there is the problem of how many cases actually get to court. According to the Oslo Rape report 2004, 68.7% of rape cases were dropped. The leading causes when the culprit was known were lack of evidence (72.6%) and no evidence of an offense (16.4%). In about a third of the cases which were dropped due to lack of evidence the victim either refused to make a formal complaint or retracted it. The Oslo police rape report lists several reasons for that: the victim doesn't feel strong enough to follow up on the complaint and prefers to forget it all or the parties of their families reach a settlement between themselves.
Of the rape cases that did get to court, 30-40% ended in acquittal. It is not clear to me whether these low prosecution and indictment rates are a problem with the police and justice system, or whether it shows a tendency to report rape when there is no ground for it.
In general, statistics are easy to misuse and abuse. In the case of the Oslo report, the statistical sample is very small and is based on 150 rape victims and 110 rapists. It is difficult to draw scientific conclusions based on such small numbers.
Sexual crimes in NorwayThese are total number of sexual offenses for the past decade. As you can see, there was a jump in 1996, from 2,244 to 3,518, followed by a general decline until 2000 and then an upwards clime back up. The current sexual crime rate for 2005 is below the 1996 level.
If we look at the number of such crimes as relating to the total population, we can see the same general pattern. However, while the total number of sexual crimes went up from 1993 to 2005 by 154%, the percentage compared to the population went up by 140%. In other words, the rise in crime was offset slightly by a rise in population.
Immigrants and RapeThe immigrant population across the different regions, compared with sexual offenses per 1000 population. All data is taken from the 2005 statistics.
|County || population || non-western immigrant population || % of non-Western immigrants || Sexual offenses per 1000 population |
| Akershus || 494,218 || 29,389 ||5.95% || 0.4-0.5-0.7 |
| Oslo || 529,846 || 96,174 || 18.15% || 0.8 |
| Hedmark || 188,376 || 5,352 || 2.84% || 0.4 |
| Oppland ||183,174 || 5,221 || 2.85% || 0.4-0.6 |
| Buskerud || 243,491 || 15,752 || 6.47% || 0.5-0.7 |
| Vestfold || 220,736 || 9,576 || 4.34% ||0.5|
| Telemark || 166,289 || 7,257 || 4.36% ||0.8|
| Aust-Agder || 103,596 || 3,626 || 3.50% || 0.7 |
| Vest-Agder || 161,276 || 8,875 || 5.50% || 0.7 |
| Rogaland || 393,104 || 18,414 || 4.68% || 0.7 |
| Hordaland || 448,343 || 17,833 || 3.98% ||(0.7) 0.9 |
| Sogn og Fjordane || 107,032 || 2,947 || 2.75% || 0.5 |
| Møre og Romsdal || 244,689 || 6,371 || 2.60% || 0.5-0.9 |
| Sør-Trøndelag || 272,567 || 9,895 || 3.63% || 0.7 |
| Nord-Trøndelag || 128,444 || 2,492 || 1.94% || 0.6 |
| Nordland || 236,825 || 5,438 || 2.30% || 0.9-1.1 |
| Troms Romsa || 152,741 || 3,721 || 2.44% || 1.2 |
| Finnmark || 73,074 || 2,333 || 3.19% || 1.2-1.4 |
This chart was a bit problematic to put together since Norway has 19 counties, but 27 police districts. Wherever there was an overlap between police districts and county, I included all police districts statistics included in that county.
The table shows that the highest percentage of rapes are in the northern counties (Nordland, Troms Romsa and Finnmark), though those counties have a very low percentage of immigrants. Oslo is just above the national average, with 0.8 sexual crimes per 1000 residents though it has a disproportionate amount of non-Western immigrants.
Rape EpidemicIn Oslo the numbers of rapes in 2000 was quite high, going up to 158. Between the years 1994-2004 this was the highest rape total. Does this mean there was a rape epidemic?
I did not find the breakdown in sexual crimes for Oslo, but here are the numbers nationwide:
(si = sexual intercourse)
|si by threats||45||24||-47%|
|si with unconscious||90||110||+22%|
|si with children ||596 ||581 ||-2.5%|
|other si ||75 ||62 ||-17%|
|sexual act with children ||200 ||230 ||+15%|
|sexual violations ||774 ||685 ||-11%|
|pornography ||100 ||113 ||+13%|
|other ||239 ||193 ||-19%|
That is, though there was an increase in rape in 2000, it was offset by a decrease in other sexual crimes. Rape went up by 20%, but incest went down by 40%. As an aside, according to this chart, children are victimized much more often than women.
I first theorized that this data was a result of a change in the legal definitions of rape. I discovered that the law was changed in 2000, but I was assured by Norway Statistics that the legal change only affected the statistics starting from 2001. This brought me back to square one as far as finding an easy explanation. What caused the sudden increase in rape along with a decrease in other sexual crimes? It is hard to know and almost impossible to track down. There are so many factors that could affect the reporting of rape and sexual crimes. An awareness campaign, for example, either inside the police corps or among the public might have focused attention on rape on account of other sexual crimes.
As can be seen in the charts above, the overall number of sexual crimes actually went down in Norway in 2000, and their ratio to the population stayed constant. If Oslo was going through a sexual crime wave, this would have to mean a serious drop in sexual crimes elsewhere in the country. A drop which would also have to be explained, since while rape rates dropped in Oslo after 2000, sexual crime went up over the country.
Another issue which should be mentioned in this context is the reports of rape centers being swamped as never before. Though these reports are meaningful, I am not sure how easy it is to draw conclusions from them about an increase in rapes. According to the Oslo Police rape report 2004, the percentage of women who sought medical help increased substantially from 46.5% in 2001 to 72% in 2004. That is, an increase in women approaching rape centers might mean more violent rapes or a willingness to seek out medical help, rather than an increase in the total numbers of rape.
Rape and MuslimsIt is interesting to compare the Norwegian statistics to another Scandinavian country which is known for its low Muslim population. Iceland has between 320-800 Muslims. The population of Iceland is about 310,000, making the percentage of Muslims in the population 0.1%-0.2%. However, the immigrant percent is similar to Norway's with a foreign population comprising 7% of the population (including Icelanders born abroad). 3.6% of the total population have foreign citizenship.
According to an article from the Iceland Review, in 2006 there was a rape epidemic in Iceland. In 2005 there were 65 reported rapes while in 2006 it almost tripled to 180, an increase of about 276%. The reported number of incest cases also went up, from 165 to 185. In comparison, Oslo, which is a much bigger city, has less reports of rape. In fact, Iceland's rate of sexual assault per 1000 population (just including the statistics for rape and incest) is 1.17, which is much higher than Norway's statistics. In 2005 Iceland's sexual crime rate was 0.74 per 1000 population, which is about the Norwegian average. I did not go deeper into the Icelandic statistics.
The Muslim population of New York City is estimated to be about 600,000 which is about 7% of the city population. Rape rates are much lower than in Oslo (about 4 times as low), apparently due to intensive work by the police and municipality. This is due to the fact that the current mayor wants to wipe out rape. Here too, I did not go deeper into the statistics.
OsloThe Oslo police prepared detailed reports of the rape situation in 2000 and in 2001. In 2004 they published a report which gives a detailed analysis along with a comparison to the previous years.
RapesThe report brings details for 150 rape victims and 110 rapists. Some rapists raped more than one woman, but some women were raped by more than one man. I understand from the report that the details about the rapists are only given for those rapists for whom there was concrete data. In such a case, this report lacks details about a significant percentage of rapists.
For this analysis I'm assuming the male/female ratio in the city and among immigrants is about the same.
RapistsAccording to the report, most rapists are not Norwegian. Forty of the rapists are Norwegians, which is well below their percent in the general city population.
The 'top' immigrant rapists were Iraqis, Somalis and Pakistanis. These groups are also the top immigrant groups from Muslim countries in Norway.
|Country||Total Oslo Population||% of city population||% of rapists|
I'm basing this on a city population of 551,832 and the Norway Statistics chart (2007 data).
According to this chart, the percentage of rapists among Pakistanis, Norway's largest immigrant group, is about their percentage in the population. However, by Somalis their rape percentage is 3.5 times their percentage in the population, and by Iraqis it's 10.39 times as high.
According to the study, 11.8% of the rapists were asylum seekers. Looking only at the non-Norwegian group, the percentage of asylum seekers among rapists was 18.6%. According to the 2006 statistics, Oslo had a population of 6% asylum seekers. This means they were overrepresented in the rape statistics by almost double their ratio in the population, however they were underrepresented by about half among the non-westerners.
VictimsThe percentage of Norwegians among rape victims has been dropping in the past years. According to the report this is apparently due to the rise of international prostitution in the city. While in 2000-2001 the percent of Norwegian rape victims was 80%-82.6%, in 2004 this has dropped to 65.3%. The percentage of Norwegians in Oslo is 77%, and this means their ratio as rape victims is well below their percent in the population.
What about the 'non western immigrants'? According to the report they are divided as follows:
|Region||% of rape victims|
This is about the percentage of non-western immigrants in Oslo, but these numbers don't include the East Europeans, who account for (at least) 6.7% of the rape victims. This means that the ratio of non-Western immigrants among rape victims is above their ratio in the population.
Looking at the 3 'leading' Muslim countries:
|Country||Total Population||% of city population||% of rape victims|
As can be clearly seen, in the case of Iraqis, there were more than twice as many rape victims as their percent in the population. Compared to Norwegian women, they are much more at risk of being raped.
ConclusionsI find it hard to draw conclusions from this study due to lack of data. Additionally, I am neither a statistician nor a criminologist, and I think those are necessary qualifications when studying statistical criminal data. My main conclusions, though, are:
(1) There is no correlation country-wide between immigrants and rapes
(2) Northern Norway is overrepresented in rape statistics (up to twice the national average)
(3) Norway is much safer than Iceland
(4) In Oslo, ethnic Norwegians are underrepresented, both among rapists and rape victims
(5) In Oslo, asylum seekers are overrepresented among rapists
(6) In Oslo, immigrant women are much more likely to be victims of rape
Oslo Police: Voldtekt i Oslo 2004 (PDF)
Statistics Norway (English): Focus on immigrants and immigration, Refugees, January 1, 2007, Who do immigrants in Norway marry?, population of immigrants by city, Immigrant populations, January 1, 2007, Offences reported to the police, by type of offence. 1993-2006, Offences reported to the police, by group of offence. 1993-2005. Numbers and per 1 000 population, Offences reported to the police, by group of offence and police district. 2005. Numbers and per 1 000 population, Immigrant population, by two groups of country background and age . Urban districts of Oslo. 1 January 2006, Population per 1 April 2005 and population changes during 1st quarter of 2005. Counties. Provisional figures
Statistics Norway (Norwegian): Innvandrerbefolkningen og personer med annen innvandringsbakgrunn, etter landbakgrunn og kjønn 1. januar 2007 , Medlemmer i trus-og livssynssamfunn utanfor Den norske kyrkja. Religion/livssyn. Fylke. 2006
News: Columbia News - Muslim population in NY, Aftenposten, Iceland Review ,Ny Tid
From my blog: Denmark: Muslim women hide rape, Norway, Rapes and Muslims - Questions
Other: Islam in Norge, List of police districts in Norway