Sweden: Falling off a balcony

In the past year there have been three cases in Sweden where parents were suspected of pushing their daughters off from a balcony.

According to several police and experts in Svenska Dagbladet, these are often families who live according to traditions which restrict their daughter's freedom. The police have a hard time figuring out whether the daughter jumped, was forced to jump or was pushed out.

Following is a list of cases where women fell off a balcony in the past year:

- February, 2007 - A 16 year old girl was seriously injured after falling from a balcony in Nyköping. The girl's father was suspected of a crime, but the investigation was closed.

- March, 2007 - A 16 year old girl died after falling from a 4th floor balcony in Karlstad. Police suspected murder but after 3.5 months of investigation classified the case as suicide or accident.

- June 5, 2007 - A 17 year old girl was seriously injured in Mönsterås after falling from the 3rd floor. Witnesses said she had been pushed, but when she regained consciousness she said she jumped on her own.

- September 8, 2007 - 29 year old woman died after falling from a balcony on the 4th floor in Kristianstad.

- October 29, 2007 - A 14 year old was seriously injured after falling from a balcony in Eskilstuna, but later regained consciousness. Her parents were arrested on suspicion of pushing her off, but were released after through questioning of both parents and the girl, since no crime could be proved.

- November, 2007 - A 25 year old woman fell from a balcony in Södermalm in Stockholm, suffering life-threatening injuries. A man that fell or jumped at the same time was arrested as suspect. Police think the woman was trying to escape after being locked in.

- January, 2008 - a girl was seriously injured when she tried to flee through the family's balcony in Södertälje. A neighbor said that girl was locked at home for several days. The fall was classified as an accident.

- January, 2008 - a 17 year old girl was killed falling from the 4th floor in Eksjö. The police is considering this an accident - the girl probably slipped and fell over the balcony.

- February, 2008 - a 16 year old girl killed falling from a 4th floor balcony in Malmö. Two relatives who were in the apartment at the time were arrested on suspicion of murder. The police are not ruling out honor murder, as well as an accident or suicide.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Expressen, Aftonbladet 1, 2 (Swedish)

See also: Malmö: Girl killed, honor murder suspected


Anonymous said...

There is a key piece of information (deliberately?) absent from each of those incident descriptions.

I suppose that means we are supposed to fill in the blanks ourselves.

Esther said...

Hi chalons,

In this last case, the family had come from Iraq in 2006 (DN).

I can guess that all these cases involved immigrants, but I'm not sure they're all Muslims. Sweden also has a large Assyrian community, which also upholds an 'honor culture'.

My guess is that in this recent case Swedish police are openly talking about honor murder, and the girl's origins are (now) discussed, since they are beginning to realize this might be a far-reaching problem. Every case on its own might be explained away. A whole bunch of maybe accidents and maybe suicides add up to a disturbing trend.

FreeSpeech said...

How many girls of swedish ancestry have fallen off ba,conies these last two years?

Esther said...

Hi FreeSpeech,

Swedish news is extremely protective on this issue and usually does not give out any information about ethnicity. Though my guess is that most if not all girls who had fallen off balconies were not ethnic Swedes.

As I wrote in my previous comment, I therefore think it is extremely meaningful that this time around at least one newspaper did report that the girl is from Iraq and that the police are openly talking about 'honor' as a motive.

Some more on this latest story: the girl's mother, who did not live in the apartment, fainted when she saw/heard what happened and is still in the hospital. The girl's 6-year old sister was placed with her relatives. Her older brother, 19, was the first to arrive at the scene, placed his sister's head on his lap and refused to part with her.

Things here are not simple: when a girl or woman dies trying to escape being locked up in her house - should it be treated as a tragic accident or murder?

Esther said...

Hi Free Speech,

I think the girl who fell in Eksjö was Swede (see here). According to Swedish news, the girl had come back to her apartment from a party Saturday night. She was living in a student dorm. Her parents came looking for her after she didn't show up at work Sunday morning. (here and here, Swedish)