Norway: Professor Unni Wikan on rape

This is an exercise in facts and context, which I found quite interesting.

In the debate about rapes by Muslims in Norway, you will often find a quote by a "Norwegian professor" who said that "Norwegian women should adapt". I myself have referenced this attitude in past articles.

The professor in question is Unni Wikan, and her words appear all over the net. For example, this one:

Oslo Professor of Anthropology, Unni Wikan, said Norwegian women must take responsibility for the fact that Muslim men find their manner of dress provocative. And since these men believe women are responsible for rape, she stated, the women must adapt to the multicultural society around them. (

Who is Professor Unni Wikan? Is she 'just' another leftist-socialist-Muslim-lover-multiculturalist? I found it hard to understand. Her book "Generous Betrayal: Politics of Culture in the New Europe" says that excessive respect for the immigrant's culture brought about lack of equality and freedom for the immigrants themselves. Her book was reviewed as follows:

Unsympathetic readers might reasonably accuse Wikan of engaging in a racist polemic, of being an apologist for anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim politics. Overall, the book tends to portray immigrants as lazy, criminally inclined, mostly illiterate men who steal welfare benefits and violently repress their daughters' and sisters' life chances. (American Ethnologist)

Is she an apologist for anti-Muslim politics or for pro-Muslim politics?

I contacted Professor Wikan and got the following response:

Nobody has been able to come up with the source where I allegedly said the outrageous thing that has been attributed to me. My name is being misused, but not in Norway or Sweden or Denmark where my position on violence in the name of religion or culture is so well known that it would be absurd to attribute a defense of rape to me.

Did she say the things attributed to her?

Like most everything else, the answer is a bit complicated. After a bit of searching, I found the original article from which the quote comes from. Professor Wikan did not reply to my questions on that article.

I bring the full translation below. It is important to notice, when reading it, exactly what she is quoted as saying, and what the reporter added. It is also important to note her conclusion.

Yes, she says that Norwegian women should adapt themselves. But the most important issue - how they are supposed to do that - is usually not quoted. What does she suggest, after all? That Norwegian women be careful around Muslim men? That they should assume that Muslim men will be more likely to rape them? That they don't invite them home?

Taking her quote in context, I doubt there are many people who wouldn't agree with her.

Here's the original article, translated from Dagbladet, with my added emphasis and comments:

"Thinks Norwegian girls invite sex"

Professor Unni Wikan isn't surprised by numbers showing that 65% of rapists in Oslo last year are non-Western men. Now she's asking Norwegian women to dress themselves less boldly. [since this claim does not appear as a later quote, I am not sure whether it is a quote or the reporter's understanding or what Wikan said]

"It is sensational how blind and naive Norwegian can be towards non-Western men. Norwegian women must use common sense," says Wikan to Dagbladet. Shocking numbers were published yesterday which show that the total number of rapes in Oslo went up by 40% from 1999 to 2000. For the first time, police classified rapists by ethnic background. The statistics show that fully 65% of the rapists come from a non-Western country.

Wikan, who is a profession of social anthropology, thinks Norwegian women must take their share in the responsibility for having rapes occur. She explains the appalling number by among other things, the culture conflicts that often arise between Norwegian women and foreign men.

"The numbers don't surprise me at all. Many immigrants think Norwegian women send them signals that ask for sexual contact. And then it can quickly go wrong. Many Norwegian women have by far poor knowledge of non-Western men's attitude towards women," says Wikan.

"It is never acceptable with rape. But it is understandable that some men from non-Western countries think that they get sexual invitations from Norwegian women who on their side are just acting normal for a Norwegian woman. It is sensational how blind and naive Norwegian women can be towards non-Western men," says Wikan.

She knows that she will be criticized for these statements, but thinks the debate is important.

"I will not blame Norwegian women for the rapes. But Norwegian women must understand that we live in a multi-cultural society and adapt themselves to it."

Unless they have a desire for sex Wikan advises Norwegian women, as strongly as possible, not to invite home, for example, Muslim men with little knowledge of Norwegian culture.

She points out also that rapists in most Muslim countries are hardly punished.

"In most places people think that it is the woman who holds the blame for the rape. And it is reasonable that immigrants take with them such attitudes when they flee here to the country," says the professor, who herself has lived many years in Muslim lands.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)


Steen said...

Oh yes, she did say precisely that on the 6 th of september 2001. Its here in Norwegian together with the context:

- Jeg vil ikke legge skylden for voldtektene på de norske kvinnene. Men norske kvinner må innse at vi lever i et flerkulturelt samfunn, og innrette seg deretter.

your translation is correct

mvh from Denmark

Esther said...

Hi Steen,

I'm not saying she didn't say that. I'm saying that the context is important. She is not quoted as saying that women should dress less provocatively, and *that* is what's running round the net.

It's an interesting coincidence that the day I posted this, a Norwegian study was published saying that half of the Norwegians blame a woman for her rape.

Are those the same people who would be shocked to hear that a woman inviting a man into her house is "asking for it"? Or is it shocking only when she's not covering her hair?

Anonymous said...

If these people hadn't been allowed into Europe then there wouldn't be a problem.

Anonymous said...

Westerners need to stop making excusing for the misogynistic attitudes of some Muslims. Would we let people torture animals to death in our countries (this is a custom in some parts of Asia)? I doubt it. When in Rome, do as the Romans do! If I went to a conservative Muslim country (which I never would), I'd dress and act appropriately relative to their culture. They owe us the same. If you even visit a country, you should be familar with its laws and customs and respect them (this is ten times more true if you migrate to said country). Us American women would NEVER put up with changing for the ragheads (most of our men wouldn't either). The ragheads would end up getting themselves lynched if they started raping American women for the way we dress (if our brothers and husbands didn't do it for us, we'd do it ourselves - lots of the women here are cops, have military training, guns, etc. You Europeans need to get some guts and do the same (or at least punish and then deport the misogynsts).

RandallJones said...

You say that 65% perecent of rapes are from non-Westen countries. But you need to break down the statistics to say from what countries they come from because there are immigrants in Europe that come from non-Muslim countries.

Also in all countries there are rapes that go unreported, so there needs to be a study on whether a female is more likely to report a rape done by someone that looks like her or someone that is of a different ethnicity.

Esther said...


Most rapists were from Iraq and Somalia. But your question brings up the problematics of this issue and statistics in general. I hope to finish my study of this subject in the near future and I will publish it then.

Anonymous said...

what is not being done, is educating immigrants into the European culture.

It is not enought that Norwegian women learn about non Western cultures and men,

we do NOT have to learn about people coming to our society, as much as THEY should lean about the cultural norms they are entering

RandallJones said...


To continue from my previous comment, there needs to be information on the race/religion of the victims. ALso a study needs to be made to find out if the religion/race of a victim affects the willingness to report a rape.

You wrote, "Most rapists were from Iraq and Somalia." That doesn't necessaily mean that they are all Muslim. Here in the United States most Arabs are Christian.

Anonymous said...

Context is important. Lets take the context of taking these creatures form their barbaric and backward culture that treats women as objects at best. Then consider what it would be like putting these creatures in a civilised society that engages in democracy, decency, civility, equality...things generally unheard of where they came from.
Lets take into account the fact that, according to them,their profit {deliberate speeling mistake}, was the worlds only perfect man. Also take into account that he should be emulated.
Now put that into the context of mohamad being a mass murdering serial rapist.
That's the context we need to look at these creatures in.

Ernesto said...

Ppl who are in Norway MUST learn about their culture and customs. Don't come saying that, for example, if I go to Japan (I'm from Peru), my japanese friends need to get used to my customs. That teacher must be joking. I disagree with much of what she says. However, I agree that everybody have to learn the customs of foreign ppl. But when you go to a foreign country, u're more required to learn its culture than they to learn yours

Esther said...


I think that you could tell people in Japan that if they invite non-Japanese to their homes, they should be aware that they're not Japanese.

Anonymous said...

I think people are so afraid to be labeled politically incorrect. Did you know that tax crimes in Norway are given a greater sentence than rape! What about the victims of these crimes? I’ll tell you what I live in Norway, and I will kill any SOB that hurts my child. There is no way that 2-3 year sentences will suffice. I think there is no cultural group which would endorse rape; however, in my experience in viewing Norwegian men I have seen two different personalities, the sober, and the intoxicated, and in general the younger generations have demostrated to have no respect for women. The spanking on the ass, the dry humping, and all the other disgraceful behavior I have been witness to while living in this country. Im sure the fundamental values across the board are in a state of degradation. Very Sad! I think we should question a society which has written laws giving greater importance to the defrauding of taxes than that of rape! Laws are written as a reflection of the moral turpitude of the society to which it applies! what does that say of these Scandinavian moral tone. Unfortunately People here do not have the salt, or teeth to voice their opinions with the crap excuse of being labeled as PI, or racist.BS! There are victims to these crimes, and therefore they require a singular perspective to the rise of this type of sexual misconduct. We the people who co-exsist in this society need to stress the importance of the issues. Remember it could be your daughter, wife, sister, mother, and son who could be the next victim. Should something happen to them before you find your voice? With the current penal system will justice be served should this happen to any of your loved ones? I doubt it! People coming to Norway should not bring thier cultural BS with them. And the Scandinavian governments need to enforce extremely harsh punishments across the board. Forget the political undertones and protect you inhabitants! Unni Wikan is and Idiot! This is a Norwegian nation, not a Muslim nation; therfore, to suggest that Norwegians have to adjust to any other cultural group is incredible stupid! This is thier country! Everyone else should adapt to thier culture standards. Norwegian should take a good hard look however at thier penal system, and elected officials who pussy foot arounf the issues

Unknown said...

it would apear to mr its the muslim men wgo need to adapt to the west if they are going to live here as all imagants have gad to do

Esther said...

The issue here is not who needs to adapt to whom. Wikan was warning Norwegian girls that they need to be careful when associating with Muslim men, since these men have a different mentality. As she says: Norwegian girls are blind and naive when dealing with non-Western men.

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