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Teach refugee children about sex: Swedish campaigners

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Young refugees arriving at Stockholm central station. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
07:30 CET+01:00
Sweden's largest sex education campaign group wants to launch a training programme for young refugee boys arriving in the Nordic nation, including gay rights and gender equality.

Leading managers at Sweden's sexual education organization RFSU argued in an opinion piece for newspaper Svenska Dagbladet over the weekend that Sweden should offer sex education classes for refugee boys, with the idea sparking a strong debate that continued into Monday morning.

“There is an acute need for knowledge about everything from sexually transmitted diseases and condoms to abortion rights, gender equality, legislation and LGBTQ rights,” wrote its chairperson Kristina Ljungros and secretary-general Maria Andersson.

The proposal follows global discussions about sexual assaults after reports of mass attacks in Cologne, Germany, on New Year's Eve and Sweden's summer music festival 'We are Sthlm' – the majority of which are said to have been committed by refugees and teens arriving in Sweden alone.

While rejecting voices in the debate linking ethnicity to sexual violence, Ljungros and Andersson went on to describe the phenomenon as related to gender, masculinity and power, but added Nordic values should be taught.

“A large part of these unaccompanied boys come from societies with norms and values around gender and sexuality that in many ways differ from mainstream Swedish society,” they wrote.

DEBATE: 'A swine is a swine, no matter their ethnicity'

A total of 35,369 refugee children, two thirds from Afghanistan, arrived in Sweden without their parents over the whole of 2015, according to the country's migration agency, Migrationsverket.

But Omid Mahmoudi from Ensamkommandes Förbund, which represents young asylum seekers arriving in Sweden on their own, criticized RFSU's sex training proposal.

“It's true that it's about power and masculinity. But there's no cultural difference in the view on sexual assaults. That's completely unacceptable in all cultures,” he told the TT newswire.

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“More sexual education isn't needed. It's totally wrong to lump all unaccompanied children together. They come from different countries and different cultures. Some are educated while others have grown up in the street and never gone to school,” he added.

Sweden has one of the highest rape rates in Europe, with 1.8 percent of all women and 0.3 percent of all men reporting they have been victims of sexual violence. But authorities record allegations in a different way to most other countries, tracking each case of sexual violence separately.

So for example if someone says they were raped by a partner every day for a fortnight, officers will record 14 potential crimes. Elsewhere, many countries would log the claim as a single incident.

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