• Sweden edition
 
Malaysians arrested for hitting kids in Sweden
The couple have been held since December 18th, 2013. Screenshot: Facebook

Malaysians arrested for hitting kids in Sweden

Published: 23 Jan 2014 15:15 GMT+01:00
Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:06 GMT+01:00

The husband and wife were arrested on December 18th after police received a report that they had repeatedly hit their four children, aged nine to 14-years-old.  Malaysian newspaper The Star reported that the police report stems from an incident in which the Muslim couple struck their 12-year-old son on the hands for refusing to perform his prayers.

The boy told his teachers in Stockholm about the incident, which was then passed along to the school's counselors, who in turn notified police. It has been illegal in Sweden for parents physically punish their children since the late 1970s.

A day later, authorities arrested the parents and placed the children in foster care while their parents await trial, The Star reported.

"It's a terrible situation for the parents and the children," lawyer Timo Manninen, the public defender involved in the child custody side of the case, told The Local.  "When the parents are being held on remand, they obviously can't take care of their children."

The couple has lived in Sweden for three years. The man, Azizul Raheem Awalludin, works for Tourism Malaysia in Stockholm and has worked for his country's tourism ministry since 2000. His wife, Shalwati Nurshal, is a secondary school teacher on unpaid leave. The Swedish foreign ministry said neither Awalludin nor Nurshal are registered as diplomats, leading prosecutors to conclude that diplomatic immunity does not apply in the case.

Formal charges have yet to be filed against the couple, who are being held on remand on suspicion of gross violation of integrity (grov fridskränkning) that took place between June 2011 and December 2013. The mother's lawyer, Kristofer Stahre, told The Local both parents are being held with restrictions that keep them largely isolated from the outside world and that the preliminary investigation will likely take two or three more weeks.

"There is a lot of material to go through, but everyone is now working harder to speed thing up as they recognize the sensitivity of the case," he said.

If found guilty, the parents risk being sentenced by up to ten years in prison.

Stahre added that he was unable to confirm details of the abuse reported in The Star due to confidentiality rules surrounding the case, but explained the situation was the result of a "clash of cultures".

"These are law-abiding Malaysian citizens who have raised their children according to customs and laws in Malaysia," he explained, adding that parents in Malaysia are allowed to be physical when disciplining their children.

"Many countries have a different view than Sweden when it comes to raising children. While Sweden has been a pioneer when it comes to outlawing corporal punishment, when foreigners come here they often continue with the same practices they used in their home countries. That's the case here, and it's not the first time that a diplomat has been involved in a case like this."

Stahre said what makes this case unique as that prosecutors were granted a remand order to have the parents detained during the preliminary investigation.

"It's very rare, but the prosecutor cited concerns they might flee the country, and that they might continue the crime. Another reason given was the possibility that they could affect the investigation if they remained free," the lawyer explained.

Sweden was the first country to introduce a formal ban on corporal punishment in 1979. A slew of countries have since followed suit, but the arrest and detention of the Malaysian couple has sparked outrage in their home country. Malaysian MP N. Surendran toled The Star that the actions taken by authorities in Sweden were "disproportionate and extreme".

Another MP, Datuk Abdul Rahman, acknowledged that Sweden's laws against smacking were "commendable", but also questioned how the matter had been handled.

"[The Swedes] must understand the difference between abuse and teaching a lesson," he told the paper.

On January 19th, Malaysian journalist Joe Lee launched a twitter campaign using the hashtag #SwedenLetThemGo to draw attention to the case and advocate for the couple's release. A Facebook page started to generate support for their case has garnered more than 14,000 likes.

On Wednesday, the Malaysian foreign ministry released a statement confirming it was working on the case, noting their first priority was to get the couple's children transferred to a Muslim Malaysian family in Sweden.

"The Swedish Department of Social Service has given full cooperation thus far and has treated it as a special case. It has started interviewing several Malaysian families currently living in Sweden as requested by the ministry for suitability to be given the custody," the statement said.

In addition, two Malaysian officials from the Women, Family and Community Ministry are ready to head for Sweden, if they are needed, to assist the family. 

Family lawyer Manninen also cited confidentiality concerns in refusing to elaborating on the details of the case, but said he sympathized with those in Malaysia who had taken issue with how the case had been handled in Sweden.

"I completely understand their critique," he told The Local. "Things could have been in a different way so that the parents could have been involved and given their consent to where the children were placed."

He emphasized that the current situation was temporary, and put in place in the early phases of the criminal investigation.

"It's unclear what might happen next," he said.

Calls by The Local to the Malaysian Embassy in Stockholm were not immediately returned.

The case is not the first time in recent years that political officials from abroad have run afoul of Sweden's laws outlawing corporal punishment. In September 2011, a visiting Italian politician was convicted by a Swedish court for assaulting his son while on holiday in Stockholm, a case that sparked heated debate in both Italy and Sweden. 

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine
A tank in Horlivka. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/TT

Fears mount for Swede kidnapped in Ukraine

A mediator who handles prisoner exchanges between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels said on Wednesday that he feared for the life of a kidnapped Swede. READ  

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'
Photo: TT

Vattenfall cuts losses despite 'tough market'

Swedish power group Vattenfall said on Wednesday that second quarter losses had been cut despite trying market conditions, forecasting that energy prices were unlikely to recover in the "foreseeable future". READ  

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Swedish actors Peter Johansson, Anna Sahlin and Måns Zelmerlöw. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Swedes 'most beautiful' in the Nordics

Who is the fairest of them all? Swedes are, according to the rest of the Nordic nations in a recent survey. READ  

My Swedish Career
American teams up with Swede to beat cancer
Matthew Volsky holding the Gynocoular colposcope which is used for screening cervical cancer. Photo: Gynocoular

American teams up with Swede to beat cancer

When Matthew Volsky first came to Sweden he didn't think he would stick around. Six years and a pioneering invention later he tells The Local about the medical device which is helping save lives around the world. READ  

Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Arla organic milk. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth

Swedes are spending more and more of their food budget on organic foodstuffs, with major supermarkets reporting double digit increases, according to new statistics. READ  

Swedish police warn of rogue pregnant cow
The cow pictured is not the one in the story, and presumably not cranky. Photo: Mike Groll/TT

Swedish police warn of rogue pregnant cow

Police in southern Sweden have issued a public warning about a pregnant cow on the loose, after two people were sent to the hospital after a hustle with the heifer. READ  

SAS and Norwegian suspend Israel flights
Photo: Matt Rourke/TT

SAS and Norwegian suspend Israel flights

About 170 passengers planning to fly to Stockholm on Wednesday have been stranded in Tel Aviv, with flights between the cities cancelled due to a missile striking near the airport. READ  

Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
Photo: Mark Lennihan/TT

Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax

With EU countries' treatment of Bitcoin varying vastly, Sweden has asked for clear EU rules stipulating whether or not the cryptocurrency should be taxed. READ  

Google in failed bid for Sweden's Spotify
Photo: Spotify

Google in failed bid for Sweden's Spotify

US Internet giant Google tried last year to buy Sweden-based streaming music service Spotify, but pulled out due to the beefed-up price tag, according to a media report on Tuesday. READ  

Motorists in sticky drama after jam spill

Motorists in sticky drama after jam spill

Drivers in western Sweden were forced to jam on the brakes after a van shed its load of preserves and juices which led to major traffic problems. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Blog updates

22 July

Det (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! “Det” is a personal pronoun that can be used in many ways, and it might me confusing if you always translate “det” to English “it”. In this article I will do my best to guide you to how to use “det”. Det replacing a word, a phrase or a clause Let us begin with the less confusing..." READ »

 

22 July

PROTECTING GIRLS FROM ABUSE OF THEIR RIGHTS (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Today (22 July) my Prime Minister, David Cameron, and UNICEF, are hosting the world’s first #GirlSummit in London. The Summit’s aim is to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end the appalling practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Early Forced Marriage (CEFM). This is a high priority for the UK government and the Prime..." READ »

 
 
 
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Gallery
People-watching July 11-13
National
Malmö mayor slams Danish beggar ban
National
Swedish anti-abortion midwife sues county
National
Swede's salary chopped for Facebook use
National
Northern Sweden warmest in 90 years
Gallery
'Victoria Day': Crown Princess Victoria turns 37
Politics
Mona Sahlin to fight extremism in Sweden
National
EU tells Sweden to cover up snus flavours
Society
Swede snags assassin role in Tom Cruise film
Lifestyle
Top ten ways to spend a few days in Malmö
Gallery
Swedish summer tourism highlights
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

695
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se