"Thousands of pregnant women" assaulted in Sweden

The Local Sweden
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"Thousands of pregnant women" assaulted in Sweden

Thousands of pregnant women in Sweden are assaulted every year by their husbands or boyfriends, according to two Swedish studies. But despite calls from experts, the Board of Health and Welfare is refusing to implement national guidelines forcing maternity clinics to ask about violence.


According to Svenska Dagbladet, the studies show that between 1,300 and 9,500 pregnant women are beaten each year in Sweden.

One of the researchers was Kerstin Edin at Umeå University. She told SvD that one of the main problems is an inconsistent approach across Sweden.

"The meetings at the maternity clinic are an opportunity for medical staff to meet healthy women of a fertile age. There are about ten such opportunities, so questions about violence ought to be asked. It's incredibly significant for future mothers and for the family," she said.

With around 100,000 births a year, the suggestion that up to ten percent of mothers could be exposed to violence concerns the Swedish Association for Obstetrics and Gynaecology (SFOG), which has proposed that all districts introduce routine questioning about violence.

"We want the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, and the Board of Health and Welfare, to draw up guidelines with the profession," said the incoming chairman of SFOG, Charlotta Grunewald.

Katarina Stenson at the National Women's Centre in Uppsala agreed. She told Svenska Dagbladet that today only women with known social problems are asked if they are being exposed to violence during pregnancy.

"Medical personnel are middle-aged white women. It's a lot easier to ask those who have other troubles," she said.

National guidelines already exist for a range of other health issues such as asthma and thrombosis, according to Kerstin Nordstrand, a researcher at the Board of Health and Welfare. But she said that violence against pregnant women was too rare for it to be taken up by the Board.

"It's a problem for many, but we must view maternity care in its entirety and not use a sledgehammer to crack a nut - even if the consequences are serious for individuals," she told SvD.


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