The woman were not bruised and battered for real but were in fact volunteers in a performance art project choreographed by local artist Elin Lundgren and her Lilith Performance Studio to highlight society's paradoxical apportioning of guilt on the victims of abuse.
"Everybody knows that violence against women is common in all cultures. But despite this very little is said about it even if it affects one's nearest and dearest," Lundgren said to local newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet.
The women travelled to the square, in the heart of Malmö's main shopping street, by bus and in silent anonymity spread out among the early afternoon Saturday shoppers.
19 make up artists worked for five straight hours to prepare the women's faces with the signs of violence such as bruises, cuts and swellings. Sydsvenska Dagbladet reported that the artists did such a good job that many passers-by stopped to watch and wondered if the women were actually hurt.
Lundgren, who spent Saturday filming the women and the spectrum of reactions of their Malmö public, first got the idea for the demonstration when she stood in a supermarket queue and saw a woman with a huge black eye.
"It disturbed me profoundly. I wanted to approach her in some way and the only thing I could think to do was give her my bottle return receipt. She smiled in return. I think she appreciated that I had noticed her."
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Lundgren entitled the work "Back in Baby's Arms" after the 1963 Patsy Cline hit and will now set to work on making a film of the performance.