In Sweden recently, a man accused of rape was acquitted by a panel of judges over a word. The victim, a 10-year old girl, accused the 50-year old man of putting a finger inside her ‘snippa’.
Reportedly, the judges were unfamiliar with the word and looked it up in a dictionary. In the dictionary, ‘snippa’ is defined as ‘the outside part of female genitalia’. Because if this, the judges freed the 50-year old man, as the Swedish definition of rape requires a physical penetration.
This has caused an enormous outcry in Sweden. A viral hashtag has appeared called #jagvetvadensnippär or ’I know what a snippa is’. The debate is inflamed in main stream and social media.
Although defined in one way in the dictionary, the word ‘snippa’ is taught and commonly used to mean vagina, and not only vulva. A 10-year old girl would definitely use this word to describe her vagina – and in this case she also clearly used the preposition ‘inside’. It is unlikely she would use the Latin word vagina, or the significantly more adult word ‘slida’.
This case casts a light on what can happen when a board of judges is out of touch with reality, or when the legal system does not use the same language as the general population.
It is a huge concern that a group of middle-aged men are incapable of equating the word ‘snippa’ and the proposition ‘inside’ – especially when expressed by a child. It seriously feels like they all need some education in female anatomy as well as in linguistics.
This case shows us, yet again, how the legal system places the responsibility to prove guilt on the victim of the crime and not the perpetrator – ‘she didn’t express herself clearly’, ‘she wore provocative clothes’, ‘she used the wrong word’, ‘she’d been drinking’, ‘she didn’t say no’.
We will see what the long-reaching consequences of this decision are. Hopefully an appeal will come, and hopefully a modernisation of the legal system. As they say, watch this space….