Speaking at a music industry event in Linköping on Thursday, Anders Ygeman said he did not believe there had been a surge of assaults in Sweden, it just appeared to be more frequent now because it is on the agenda.
The interior minister said: “Sex attacks at festivals are in my view less common now than 20 years ago, but we talk more about it now.”
Swedish police came under fire in January last year after it took nearly six months for the force to confirm a number of teenage girls had reportedly been assaulted by foreigners at the We Are Sthlm festival.
As the music event was hosted in August 2015, public outrage spread as reports surfaced where it was claimed a gang of youths, reportedly mostly from Afghanistan, groped and molested girls as young as 11 and 12.
GETTY • SVT
Anders Ygeman insisted the situation was 'no worse now than 20 years ago'
In 2016, a number of Swedish music festivals also made headlines as it emerged a number girls and young women had been victims of assaults and sex attacks.
Almost 80 complaints, including sexual harassment, rape and molestation, were made from leading music events.
In a desperate attempt to halt the attacks, police urged festival goers to wear wristbands reading “don’t touch me”.
The scheme backlashed as outraged females lambasted officers for placing the responsibility with them, instead of tackling the issue at hand.
We don’t believe that crimes have increased
Kristina Ljungros, RFSU’s representative
Festival organisers were also urged to increase security at their events to stop the sickening assaults.
However, during the panel discussion, hosted RFSU, Bråvallafestivalen and We Are Sthlm, it was suggested the media had blown the issue out of proportion and attacks at events were not a new phenomenon.
Kristina Ljungros, RFSU’s representative, said: “We don’t believe that crimes have increased.”
Adding that there had been little attention drawn to the incidents in the past, she added: “It's good that we're talking about it now. We must prevent the crimes. We all have a responsibility.”
Police urged festival goers to wear wristbands reading 'don’t touch me'
Speaking to SVT, Mr Ygeman said the media had a tendency to focus on problems as he suggested less alcohol at events could help tackle the problem.
He said: “We still need a high presence of police and maybe a little less alcohol at some festival.
“The media have a tendency to focus on problems and if one has a large number of known artists performing, then maybe that contributes to how something is covered.”
Sweden has faced increasing levels of crime and violence as police have been forced to place more than 50 areas on a “no-go zone” list.