What does the word "snippa" mean? The Swedish dictionary defines it very clearly: the female sexual organ.
But a few judges in Sweden didn't seem to get it - which led to a conviction for the rape of a ten-year-old being overturned. This is how several Swedish media report. The decision led to incomprehension and anger among the population.
The 50-year-old defendant was sentenced to three years in prison by a district court; the case then went before an appeals court. This acquitted the man of the charge of rape. True, it was proven that the man touched and touched the girl. However, the court was unsure how to interpret the word "snippa," TV broadcaster SVT reported.
"Snippa" has been used in Sweden for about 20 years by children, but also by parents and teachers when talking about the vagina. It is a colloquial word, most comparable to the German words "muschi" or "mumu".
The girl had described how the 50-year-old put his hand in her panties. He "had his hand on her 'snippa' and had a finger in her 'snippa'".
The court believed the girl's description. However, she had difficulty explaining what "snippa" meant and how far the man penetrated her, SVT continued. According to a majority of the judges, it was therefore "not possible to prove that the man penetrated her abdomen".
The judges stated that she consulted the Swedish dictionary for lack of information on what the girl meant by this expression. In it, "snippa" is described as "a woman's external genital organs". "Snippa" is not a synonym for vagina, because this word describes the tube-like canal that leads from the uterus to the outside.
Åke Thimfors was one of the five judges who rendered the verdict. According to SVT, he believes that the material presented by the public prosecutor's office is insufficient for a rape conviction. Thimfors explained that in child rape cases, the interrogations are conducted by the police during the pre-trial investigation and then played before the court. Therefore, no further inquiries could be made during the detention.
"In the material it was unclear what was meant by the word 'snippa' and she was not asked a clear question as to what she meant or what she was describing. So we just got those words and then it comes down to how they are interpreted," he said. It must be proven beyond a doubt that the finger was in the vagina. According to Thimfors, the prosecution would have had to present additional evidence for a conviction.
The public prosecutor expressed surprise in a press release about the verdict. You are not satisfied. It was a very "strange interpretation," said Eva-Lotta Swahn of the Halmstad prosecutor. The Court of Appeal did not raise the question of the meaning of the word "snippa". An appeal of the judgment will be examined.
Agneta Carlquist, the child's attorney, was stunned by the appeals court's decision. She has never experienced anything like this, she told SVT. "It shouldn't be a guessing game. There are serious consequences if the child isn't allowed to explain himself." The Court of Appeal should have been able to understand that word.
Many in the population as well as experts in Sweden are appalled by the judgment of the appeal judges.
"I've read a lot of judgments and can't remember a judgment that's so strange," writes columnist Oisín Cantwell in Aftonbladet newspaper. He also criticized the old age of the male judges, who apparently did not know the term "snippa".
Legal expert Sven-Erik Alhem told the newspaper: "I can't understand the basics. I find the reasoning for the judgment written strangely and I'm very skeptical about the reasons. I wasn't in the courtroom, but what I read in the reasoning for the judgment sounds strange to me."
Journalist Lisa Bjurwald called the overturning of the verdict "extremely bizarre". She told the Expressen newspaper: "The reasoning of the Court of Appeal is grotesque and obviously contradicts the known facts. Every normal parent in Sweden knows that 'snippa' is now the standard name for girls' genitals."
Ida Östensson, founder of the Make Equal organization and general secretary of the Child 10 foundation, "is boiling with anger," as she told the newspaper: "I wonder what word the judges thought would have been correct for a ten-year-old? Pussy? Vagina? Or would the former have been too vulgar? The latter as too medicinal? Now, finally, there's a collective term for girls' genitals that's being taught to children and that also makes girls' genders talkable." She demands that the Supreme Court take a closer look at the verdict.
People are also protesting the decision of the appellate judges on social media – under the hashtag
Caroline Svelid started the hashtag on Instagram. "Let's show the old men in the court of appeals that there are countless of us who know exactly what 'snippa' means!" she wrote in a post that has been liked more than 200,000 times.
Above all, she thinks of the girl and her family. "I want the family to feel that many of us are behind them and at the same time show how sick it is that something like this is happening in front of an appeals court," she told Aftonbladet.
Of the five members of the Court of Appeals who overturned the conviction against the defendant, only one person opposed the overturning—the group's sole judge.
Quellen: SVT, Staatsanwaltschaft, "Aftonbladet", "Expressen", Swedish Academy's Ordböcker, Twitter, Instagram