Dads often keep custody after killing kids' mums
Published: 03 Jan 2013 10:08 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Jan 2013 10:08 GMT+01:00
More than 120 children in Sweden have had their mothers killed by their fathers in the last decade, with the dads nevertheless retaining custody of their children in four out of ten cases, according to a new review.
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The review, carried out by the Aftonbladet newspaper, found that 201 women in Sweden had been killed by their husbands or ex-husbands since 2000.
The killings left 179 children under the age of 18 left without a mother, with 126 of the children having had their mothers killed by their own fathers.
The review also found that 63 children were home when their mothers were killed, with 33 witnessing the murder.
"These children are incredibly affected by the murders of which they are often the only witness," psychologist Anna Norlén from Save the Children (Rädda Barnen) told Svergies Televsion (SVT).
In several cases, fathers also took their own lives after killing their wives or girlfriends, but Aftonbladet carried out a deeper analysis involving 54 children, finding that in four out of ten cases, the fathers convicted of killing their children's mothers still have custody, often using it for leverage to disrupt their kids' lives.
The findings, based on interviews with the children as well as a review of legal and other documents from public agencies, show that, in many cases, Swedish authorities prioritize the rights of the convicted killers over the rights of the surviving children.
Among other things, the incarcerated fathers hold sway over their children's lives by refusing to allow their minor children to switch schools, making it hard for them to get prescription medications, or refusing to let them apply for a passport.
In one case, a boy was forced to spend nights in prison with his father despite being terrified of the man.
"Society must be clearer, faster, and more forceful in protecting children's interests," said Norlén, suggesting they be provided with specially appointed guardians.