Sextortion: Introducing Corruption in Feminist Understandings of Sexual Violence

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Many acts of sexual harassment and abuse include quid pro quo elements. A university professor who requires sexual favours from students to pass their exams, a manager that offers (or threatens to withhold) positions or promotions in exchange for sex, an asylum seeker who is expected to pay with their body to receive help in a migration process or to cross a border. These are examples of ‘sextortion’. Sextortion occurs when a person with entrusted authority abuses this authority to obtain a sexual favour in exchange for a service or a benefit that is within their power to grant or withhold.

This session invites speakers to reflect and theorise on the implications of introducing corruption as an element of sexual violence. How can an analysis of quid pro quo elements in sexual violence deepen our understanding of abuse of power, dependency and impunity?

Sextortion is increasingly gaining attention in international research and policy discussions. In a Nordic context, sextortion has been unexplored until recently. This session invites speakers that analyse sextortion to present their ongoing research. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to: abuse of power, vulnerabilities, dependency, consent, coercion, complicity, impunity, conceptual and theoretical explorations.


Dr Silje Lundgren is the director of the Forum for Gender Studies and Equality at Linköping University. She is currently working on a research project about sexual harassment and abuse in the Swedish police force together with Malin Wieslander. During the last few years, Silje Lundgren has been working on sextortion in different contexts together with a research team formed by Åsa Eldén, Dolores Calvo, Elin Bjarnegård and Sofia Jonsson.

Dr Dolores Calvo is an independent researcher and consultant based in Stockholm. She has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Gothenburg (2013). She has done research on gender and gender mainstreaming at European Union level focusing on discourses and representations of gender, policy developments of gender equality legislation, and the mainstreaming of gender in different policy areas with particular focus on migration, asylum and development cooperation policies. She has also conducted research and lectured on women's collective action, grassroots movements, democracy, transformation in state institutions, clientelism and social exclusion in Latin America. In the Swedish context Dr Calvo has done applied research on trafficking and the role of civil society organisations, democratic participation, integration of newcomers to Sweden at municipality level, and genderbased violence. More recently, she has been doing research on sextortion both in development cooperation and in the Nordic context.

Dr Åsa Eldén has a PhD in sociology from Uppsala University (2003). She is an independent senior consultant and researcher, and a guest researcher at Örebro University. Eldén was a recurring part time faculty at the Department of Sociology, Boğaziçi University in Istanbul for many years, Senior Researcher at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul and Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Turkish Studies at Stockholm University. She has been the Lead/Senior Policy Specialist for Gender Equality at Sida, and a Special Investigator in the ”Review of action to combat violence against women” for the Swedish government. Eldén is the co-author of Sextortion: Corruption and GenderBased Violence (EBA-report 2020:06) and her work has a thematic focus on gender-based violence, honour violence, gender in development, the shrinking democratic space, the women’s movement, and sextortion.

Published Sep. 21, 2021 10:02 AM - Last modified Sep. 21, 2021 2:59 PM