The ruling was based on a case involving a 65-year-old man who was caught masturbating on a public beach. The man was reportedly charged with sexual assault but was acquitted by a district court, stating that his self-pleasuring act was for his own enjoyment and involved no one else.
The ruling was enough to clear him of the sexual assault charge, but it is still unclear if his action remains in violation of other statutes in Sweden. “With that [ruling],” prosecutor Vrethammar told The Local, “we can conclude that it is OK to masturbate on the beach… [although] the act may be considered to be disorderly conduct.”
Sweden has long been considered a sexually progressive land, but with a ruling such as this one, what about young children who now may witness these kinds of sexual demonstrations?
Dr. Liz Davis, a reader in Child Protection at London Metropolitan University who has researched Sweden’s child protection system, said she was taken aback by the public edict and told the Daily Mail, “Sweden has a really robust child protection system and very rigorous investigation around sexual abuse. So this judgement is surprising given that such an act could be witnessed by children as well as adults,” she points out.