Norway, Rape and Multi-culturalism

by Robert Whiston FRSA   Jan 9th 2011

How often have we heard women’s campaign groups ridiculing the idea that a provocatively dressed woman should never be considered as flaunting her sexuality ?

Women have the right – we are firmly told – to dress (and behave ?) how they choose and it should not mean that it attracts men’s attention or that it should be used as an excuse for suggesting the likelihood of them being raped is increased.

This week (Jan 2011), Britain’s Daily Telegraph carried a story about a survey undertaken by The Haven into generational perceptions of ‘sexy’ behaviour. This showed that 33% vs. 25% of 35 to 50 year old person believed women should accept responsibility for ‘dressing provocatively.’ [1] Contrary to the doctrine of women’s campaigning groups it is ordinary women who are far less forgiving than men towards women who dress provocatively (women 31% vs. men 23%) – nor is this a new discussion.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s rapes in Norway and particularly in Norway’s capital, Oslo, were increasing at an alarming rate for such a sparsely populated country. It was possible to accurately claim that the number of rapes in Oslo per capita was six times higher than the per capita rate for New York City.

According to the newspapers Aftenposten and Dagbladet, the emergency hospital known as Legevakt has never had so many rape victims to treat.

  • “Our resources have been the same for the past 10 years, while the number of our patients has doubled, and continues to increase this year,” said Endre Sandvik, leader of Oslo’s Legevakt.

The number of reported rapes increased from 235 last year to nearly 300 women seeking help at Oslo’s emergency clinic handling rape victims in 2006. [2]

  • “The growth in the number of rapes is dramatic,” said Sylvi Listhaug, the politician in charge of health issues on the Oslo City Council. “It makes me angry, and worried about the young women of our city.”

The explosion in the number of rape charges in Oslo involved immigrant perpetrators, which were mostly Muslims. In 2001 a police study noticed that two out of three persons charged with rape in Oslo were “immigrants from a non-western background.” A glance at Norway’s population statistics shows between 3 and 4 times more immigrants living in Oslo than any other Norwegian city.

Yet Unni Wikan, a professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo, said in 2001 that because Muslim men found their manner of dress provocative:

  • “Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes.”

The professor’s conclusion was not that Muslim men living in the West needed to adjust to Western norms, but the exact opposite:

Left: Professor Unni Wikan (b 1944)

  • “Norwegian women must realise that we live in a multi-cultural society and adapt themselves to it.”

Wikan has campaigned since the 1990s to change Norwegian policies towards immigrants and argued that generous welfare payments and a policy of multi-cultural tolerance are creating a culture of welfare dependency, and destroying self-respect.

In the core countries of the Scandinavian bloc, i.e. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, not dissimilar problems are being faced, all having jointly adopted similarly generous social and welfare policies many years ago.

In a 2001 debate about the culture of rape amongst Muslim immigrants in Norway, Wikan  said that Norwegian women were ‘blind and naive’ towards non-Western immigrants;

  1. “I will not blame the rapes on Norwegian women, but Norwegian women must understand that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it.”
  2. “Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes” (for example, by not inviting into their homes Muslim men with little knowledge of Norwegian culture).

This second point seems to be denying grown men the ability to make choices, conduct themselves sensibly and adjust to their new surroundings.

Unni Wikan is a complex and a contradictory figure prepared to go against the conventional wisdom in voicing what a substantial number of ordinary people quietly think about provocatively dressed women (see Jan 2011 Haven Refuge survey).

Yet at the same time, as an anthropologist, she tolerates crimes she ascribes to cultural differences while castigating multi-culturalism which should have blended the two cultures into one.

Multi-culturalism was introduced all across Western Europe specifically to defuse race and cultural clashes as waves of immigrants and refugees transformed from an inconsequential number into sizeable minorities. Generous ‘open door’ policies unchanged for decades fuelled more arrivals from distant cultures escaping war-torn countries or economic privation. The host countries anticipated the newcomers would blend in but this has not happened.

The initial success of multi-culturalism is now giving way to a new reality – one that acknowledges it provides only a veneer of tranquility and is not viable without constant external support. Wikan and other thinkers believe multi-culturalism has achieved the very reverse of its intention;

  1. Culture has become a new concept of race
  2. Sustaining ethnic identity politics has subverted human rights
  3. Fearful of being considered racist, state agencies have sacrificed freedom and equality in the name of culture
  4. Free speech and expression is no longer freely permitted
  5. As a result the host population feels it values under threat and its hegomeny is everywhere compromised

In the academic world a debate rages over “value conflicts” as they apply to multi-cultural societies. Meanwhile, as institutions fail to function as anticipated people are caught up in the turmoil of their malfuntioning. There is a disconnect between latent public opinion and how the state’s policies are determined. In Britain we see this in the dread reserved by all respectable political parties for the BNP political party that appeals directly to the indigenous working class population.

Politically articulate they might not be but the working class are astute enough to recognise the contradiction in policies that rarely assist them with the overly-protective measures afforeded minority cultures and welfare. ‘Social Justice’ is thus put to the sword.

One reviewer of Wikan’s book (“Generous Betrayal: Politics of Culture in the New Europe“) claims that she does not fully appreciate the complexity of the social reality.” In this era of political correctness it is an easy slur to make to describe her writings as a “racist polemic.”

But the reality is that Scandinavia has seen an unexpected resurgence of nationalist / right-wing politicians (the same is true of politics in Holland).

Before multi-culturalism many immigrants in Europe were viewed as marginalised, experienced discrimination and segregation. However, Unni Wikan shows in her book how an excessive respect for their culture has been part of the problem which has seen an increase in segregation (e.g. Muslim ghettos) and an increase in marginalisation that the resulting parallel societies have created.



“Wake Up To Rape Research – Summary Report”

The study was conducted for the sexual assault awareness group, The Havens.


The younger generation, the 18 to 24 year olds are also most likely to think a person should accept responsibility in different scenarios. They are more likely to think that a person should accept responsibility when:

  • Getting into bed with a person (68% vs. 63% of 25 to 34 year olds)
  • Going back to theirs for a drink (39% vs. 22% of 35 to 50 year olds)
  • Dressing provocatively (33% vs. 25% of 35 to 50 year olds)
  • Dancing in a sexy way with a man at a night club or bar (29% vs. 18% of 35 to 50 year olds)
  • Kissing them (23% vs. 8% of 35 to 50 year olds)
  • Accepting a drink and engaging in a conversation at a bar (20% vs. 7% of 35 to 50 year olds)

Legend  – (women % vs men %,  and by age range).

NB. The ‘Kissing them’ is a significant gender based difference. Women appear to impart and attach far more value to it than men. (23% vs. men 8%). 

[1] The Havens is a specialist rape victim support service with three unit in the London area. The sample (by Opinion Matters) included 349 men, 712 women, 213 aged 18 – 24, 386 aged 25 – 34 and 462 aged  35 – 50. The sample was made up of 922 heterosexual, 71 homosexual, 52 bi-sexual and 16 asexual respondents.

[2] ‘Rape reports soar in Oslo’ Dec 12th 2006

One Response to Norway, Rape and Multi-culturalism

  1. Cathy says:

    Absolutely unbelievable

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