Sweden: Honor-related violence

ÖP reported this spring about Henrik and Anna.  These are not their real names and their personal details are kept under wraps.  Anna's father is a Muslim and Anna and Henrik have lodged complaints by the police that he had threatened to kill them since Anne married Henrik, who isn't a Muslim.

They have also complained by the police that an unknown people have broken into their apartment in Östersund and threatened them.  People who have certainly been sent by the father.

They hope therefore to leave the county.

Anna says that now they're just waiting for information from a municipality in another part of the country.

The municipal housing company had offered a modern and well-planned apartment in close proximity to the local police station.

Anna says that they can be completely safe, the risk that they will be threatened there seems unbelievably small and they would be able to build up their life from scratch.

As in the past, the economy can mess up the situation for the couple, since they don't have a job.  Without a job the housing company doubts if they can pay the rent, which means it depends on whether the welfare authorities can pay the rent at first till the couple gets a steady income.

Henrik says that it's important for them how Östersund and the new community act.  As long as the couple worry about threats it's also difficult to work, but he's certain that once they know that the situation is stable, it will also be alright with work.

The question is therefore if the new municipality is can pay their rent and living expenses for the initial period - and if Östersund municipality can help with the move.

Anna says that right now they're just waiting and all the people in charge are on holiday.  She'd asked her welfare officer for help with contacting the new community, but that didn't happen.  But, she says, they continue to hope, and it would be so nice to be free of fear.


"Swedish authorities need much more knowledge about how oppressive it is to live under threat of honor violence," says Juno Blom of the Östergötland county administration in a lecture to, among others, Östersund police.

The government has put aside money to spread knowledge among Swedish authorities about honor violence and the county administration of Östergötland has received a special commision to work with such information.

Juno Blom is the equality officer there and was earlier this year especially invited to lecture to police authorities in Östersund:

Helen Eed-Jonsson of the police says that it was very valuable and that they need to learn more about this issue.

Juno Blom says that an important issue is just to understand how fear affects those who are subjected to it, and that it can imbue daily life with destructive consequences.  In the end, it's easy to see threats everywhere, in a way that may look strange to others who do not live under such conditions.  Such knowledge is important for police and others who should deal with these issues.

She wants to work to increase coordination between police and the social services and says that it's important that society doesn't turn a blind eye but rather learn to see the signs when honor rules shut in the girls who are killed.

Not least, schools can play an important role, teachers are an important contact.  Last year all the health center in the county got a book titled "Honor related violence and oppression" which was put out by the county administration in Skåne, and which was sent to all the county councils and regions in Sweden.

The difference between so called honor-related violence and male violence against women is according to the book in the fact that honor-violence has a collective dimension.  The group punishes those who deviate and there is not one potential perpetrator, but rather several.

Hernik and Anna also have active help from Sara Mohammed, who heads the "Glöm inte Pela och Fadime" (Don't forget Pela and Fadime) network.  She says that they have made several solutions and hope that the municipality will help the couple.

In the fall Sara Mohammad received Aftonbladet's award for a Swedish Hero for her work with the organization.

For several years, she and others in the non-profit organization have set up to help young women who live under similar threats as those who led to the murders by their relatives of Fadime Sahindal (2002) and Pela Atroshi (1999).

Fadime had lived in Östersund when she was shot dead in 2002 by her own father on a visit to her parent's apartment in Uppsala.

Mohammad says that the problem with honor related violence is enormously big and that many Swedish authorities have been slow to get information about how the honor culture functions, which she thinks is extremely strange.

Sara meet Henrik and Anna many times and has personally participated in several meetings with the municipality where the couple's situation was discussed.

Since the municipalities lack knowledge it's very positive that people are willing to listen to what they and other networks have to say - not least about the needs of those who are subjected to it.


- About 150 people are living in hiding after being threatened with honor-related violence.

- 13 of 37 cases concerning the Care of Young Persons Act in Stockholm county in 2006 were honor related.

- In a 2004 survey county administrators estimated that 1,500 to 2,000 girls and young women were subjected to it and that 150-300 needed to live in hiding.

- in a UN report on Sweden's efforts against violence against women, the police reported 400 cases of honor related violence that are brought to the police's attention annually.

- 27% of Swedish girls of foreign background have restrictions from home that might be related to honor related oppression.

Sources: ÖP 1, 2 (Swedish)

See also: Swedish: No virginity certificates, Sweden: Honor related violence widespread, Sweden: Challenging the honor culture, Sweden: Forced marriage / honor-related violence trial

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Multiculturalism is one of the finest examples of the old adage 'Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it". Well, Sweden has asked for it and now it's getting the diversity it asked for.