Sweden: Increase in secret identities

The number of people living under protected identities is on the increase in Sweden. Women hiding from their ex-partners form the largest group.

The number of people living under protected identities has doubled since the start of the 1990s. In 1993 4,700 people in Sweden had protected identities while today there are currently over 11,000, according to Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Around 60 percent of those in hiding are women who are followed and threatened by their male ex-partners. Around 4,000 children are in hiding with their mothers.

"Society is become increasingly threatening," Ingegerd Widell at the Swedish tax authorities (Skatteverket) told DN.

The group that is increasing the most is criminal case witnesses. The increasing incidence of so-called honour killings has also boosted the figures of those with protected identities.

Another group in threat are those exposed due to their work, such as prosecutor Barbro Jönsson whose home was bombed last autumn.

Living with a protected identity can be complicated. Families have problems accessing public services such as nurseries and healthcare as they remain registered in their original municipalities.

It is often considered difficult for people, especially children, to get used to new identities and so many settle for simply protecting their place of residence.

Town councillor Eva-Britt Dahlström rejects this however and says the protection should go further, with the provision of fictitious identities.

"They are already compromised as a result of remaining registered in their original municipality. They live like refugees in their own country," Dahlström, who has first hand experience of living in hiding, told DN.

Source: The Local (English)

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