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Schyman in equality policy shock: tax men

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19:07 CEST+02:00
A government investigation into the cost to society of male violence against women. And a tax against men to settle the account. Those were two suggestions put forward by the Left Party's feminist council, led by colourful former party boss Gudrun Schyman.

The first idea is not so controversial. A number of countries, including USA, Canada and Finland have undertaken similar exercises and Schyman feels it's time Sweden did the same:

"It's a huge social problem [violence against women], which very few people want to discuss. It's about time we put a price on it."

Schyman wants the two proposals to be adopted by her party as motions to be put forward for debate in Parliament during the current session. That shouldn't be a problem for the first, but the idea for a male tax, supported by six Left Party members of parliament, has yet to be approved by the full parliamentary group.

Figures from the Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority show that in 2003, one woman a week was murdered in Sweden, with 5 attempted murders a week, 62 incidents of physical abuse every day and six rapes a day.

The text of Schyman's proposal reads:

"When the costs of this aspect of socially destructive male behaviour are added up, it becomes clear how much money men's violence costs society - money which could be used to increase women's income, for healthcare, better working environments, and so on. It's then only natural to ask how men collectively should take economic responsibility for men's violence against women."

Schyman believes that just as the tax system evens out the playing field between the classes, it can perform a similar job between the sexes:

"We know that women have significantly less money than men. Men have some kind of willy bonus in that they earn 10% to 20% more."

Representatives from other parties were not slow to come forward to voice their opinion. Nalin Pekgul, chairman of the Social Democrats' women's association, said:

"Women who have been beaten and are on sick leave represent an important social problem... But a tax wouldn't change men's behaviour. It would also mean that innocent men are punished."

SvD spoke to a number of other female politicians who were critical. The chairman of Conservative women, Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd, said:

"I'd very much like to see what the price tag is [for the costs for violence against women], but it's no solution to ask men as a group to pay just because some can't behave."

Eva Larsson of the Green Party's women's committee said:

"I'd rather see more men getting involved and leading the campaign against violence."

The Liberal Party are putting forward their own motion calling for tougher penalties for violence against women and violations of injunctions.

Meanwhile, on Monday there was a potentially interesting development on the European front of the battle for equality. The EU is set to issue a directive in December calling on member states to ensure equal treatment of men and women in the purchase of goods and services.

Countries can opt out if they wish. In Sweden, this could affect the so called 'women's tariff' (tjejtaxa) traditionally operated by insurance companies, taxi companies, pub and nightclub owners and hairdressers. It isn't clear at the moment whether the government intends to implement the directive in full.

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, Göteborgs Posten

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