Police report sharp increase in rape

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Oslo police have received a record number of rape reports so far this year, with the total number of reported rapes and attempted rapes up 68 percent during the first quarter. The reports also indicate that random attacks (called overfallsvoldtekter in Norwegian) have moved from downtown to outlying areas.

“We are very worried about this,” Police Inspector Hanne Kristin Rohde told newspaper Dagsavisen. “Even one rape is one too many.”

And the numbers are much bigger than that. Police received 76 rape reports in January, February and March, up from 45 during the same period last year. The number also compares to 45 in the first quarter of 2010 and 42 in the same period of 2009.

“There’s a big gap from last year to this year and it’s incredibly difficult to say what’s caused the increase,” Rohde told Dagsavisen. “But we think the attention given to rape in recent years has led to more women having the courage to file reports.” Oslo was gripped by a wave of random rapes last summer and fall, leading to heightened public awareness and an initial decline that’s now been reversed.

Rohde, who heads the vice unit for the Oslo Police District, said that rape used to be “tied to so much shame that no one talked about it.” She thinks it still is, and that there are many cases of rape and attempted rape that go unreported, but that overall, more reports are coming in. A government study from 2008 estimated that anywhere from 8,000 to 16,000 rapes occur in Norway every year.

“We’re very concerned about date rape and party rape, and think there are enormous unreported numbers,” Rohde said. “We also know that most rapes occur within a family- or party connection, according to our statistics.”

Of the 76 reported rapes and attempted rapes, only 12 involved random street attacks. That’s still double the number from last year, and the majority have occurred outside the so-called “Ring 2,” a geographic area defined by a beltway around Oslo’s central area.

Rohde suspects that the rapists consciously choose to attack their victims where there’s the least chance of being seen and stopped, also when the victims are on their way home.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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