• Sweden's news in English

Stockholm mum charged over Polish 'slaves'

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 1 Feb 2010, 17:15

Published: 01 Feb 2010 10:18 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Feb 2010 17:15 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"Ruthless trafficking and slavery. The charge sheet also includes forced labour," prosecutor Marie Lind Thomsen told the Metro newspaper.

The Polish women, reported to be in their early twenties, were forced to work as cleaners and nannies for up to 19 hours per day, seven days a week in return for slave wages.

The young women were housed in a cramped closet in a lavishly furnished three bedroom apartment in the Stockholm suburb of Solna.

The newspaper reports that the young women were subjected to threats of violence and were forced to steal clothing and home decor on behalf of their employer who had originally promised them a monthly wage of 10,000 kronor ($1,400).

According to the charge sheet, one of the women in fact received eight kronor a day for four months, while another received no money at all.

The investigation and charges cover treatment meted out to four Polish women tricked into coming to Sweden and employed by the woman for periods of up to four months.

The matter was brought to the attention of the police after one of the women was able to report the treatment to the Polish embassy in Stockholm.

Story continues below…

The 46-year-old woman is reported to live on social welfare and receives some income from a partner living at another address and whom police have not been able to link to the trafficking charges.

The woman denies all charges.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:43 February 1, 2010 by Audrian
Humans put into corners act in desparation. A single mother on welfare income is fighting back to survivie. At a devorce rate of 67% per year more of this kind of violence can be common, e.g., child abuse, and neglect. Swedish welfare law should be rombust enough to protect single mothers from falling into a desperate situation.

Make no mistake about it, the action of this mother is a crime against humanity. Punishment for this sort of crime should be severe to prevent a repeat.

The tagedy is what happens to the children if in case the mother is sentenced to serve prison terms? Is it like punishing the children? What happens to children who have seen such cruelity?

This a lot of thought for discussion
12:46 February 1, 2010 by Beynch
For the sake of completion of the story it would be intersting to know if the 46-year ols mother-slavedriver, welfare recipient, was also Polish, or what her status is, as well as that of her former partner. Is he paying child support?
13:08 February 1, 2010 by peropaco
I don't think this woman was in such of a desperate situation. She conned these young girls and forced them to work up to 19 hours 7 days a week. That was a malicious and calculated behaviour. Previous to this, the old goat probably enjoyed a descent life with nannies and housekeepers and instead of adjusting to her financial decline, she wanted to show her friends she was still in good social standing and from this stems the human mistreatment. They should force her to sell some of the lavish furniture as per the article and pay back every hour extra these poor your girls worked without compensation.

@Beynch. FYOI ;-) The 46-year-old woman is reported to live on social welfare and receives some income from a former partner, who police have not been able to link to the trafficking charges.

The woman denies all charges.
14:04 February 1, 2010 by livinginsweden
She is a nasty b**tch and she should go to jail PUNT STOP.

@Audeian ... lets not get into excuses..... there are thousands of single parents with 4 kids not just in SE but in India, Africa,etc... and they don't do such things. What happens to the children if their mother is in jail? They live in a better environment without such a cruel mother and without seeing cruelty. To leave the children with such an animal is the real cruelty ... I hope you are not suggesting that becos she has 4 children she should not be jailed... There is not much to think ...

@Beynch .... why do you wonder whether the mother is Polish? I hope that you are not suggesting that such cruel mothers cannot be swedish or english or others.

@peropaco ... i agree with u ..... she should go to jail and wash the toilet and live in a 2 x 3 meter room and have porridge for breakfast, lunch and dinner and experience her own nasty actions.

we always think that men are only capable of nastiness..... apparently ... sex has nothing to do with violence, etc......

ha ha
14:09 February 1, 2010 by glamelixir
OK... I will try to remain calm while replying.

Desperation is a term we can talk about for a Southamerican single mother with three kids, no welfare, no money from the partner and going to work everyday for a salady that doesn't cover the minimum expenses. Not for someone living in a three room apartment in Solna. Please, let's try to be fair to a worldwide context in order not to drop comments.

Besides if you are desperate I guess you will have some other priorities in your list that having three nannies/cleaners.

Let's get real.
14:23 February 1, 2010 by americanska

You are a perfect example of a bleeding heart liberal that does more harm than good.

You are making the assumption that just because she is on welfare - she should be.

Is she on welfare just because she is a single mom? I understand that sweden has cheap childcare (subsidized by the socialst taxing of the middle class) so she should get a job and contribute to society.
15:26 February 1, 2010 by here for the summer
The woman does deny all charges .. it would be interesting to hear her side of the story ..
15:52 February 1, 2010 by Craptastical
10000 a month isn't a slave wage. There are waitresses who legally make that much working _full time_.

Now the 19 hours thing etc is pretty harsh if true, and so is the wage if it was shared between the girls.

I'm playing devil's advocate here by asking, but....

What if the claims against the woman are false and these claims were made up as a result of the woman not giving them a higher wage etc?
18:13 February 1, 2010 by Alex Coman
A lot of these things happens in UK. Not long ago "Times" had an article on that matter, and shows many of those who profit from those poor women in UK were middle-class. SURE this woman is not just a singular case. SURE that happens in all EU developed countries. Does anybody remember that austrian guy who enslaved for sex his daughter, for many many years. Well, that man was not a bulgarian or a romanian. In fact, this kind of things only happens in the rich part of EU. I m not giving you any links because I m sure some of you knows what I said.
20:04 February 1, 2010 by wxman
What irony, keeping Slavs as slaves, the very origin of the word.
20:13 February 1, 2010 by Nordic Prince
Jesus H. Christ...

You wnna convince me that the WT just woke up and noted that she has been working so many hours and been treated as a slave....???

How come she didnt quit this job in the first days or even report her?
22:24 February 1, 2010 by Alex Coman
Problem is some people don t understand how slavery works, just as some don t think how bad rape is. Others don t understand how psychological abuse works, some don t have any idea what .... No matter, NORDIC PRINCE, you just need to read some books, to go out and know people, to see some interesting tv channels like Discovery, and then you ll understand: just extremely vulnerable people (for economic or psychological reasons) become victims of this kind of crime, and they need protection and help from laws and society.

22:53 February 1, 2010 by Thompsuleme
please enlighten the retarded NORDIC PRINCE for us Alex C. apparently he doesnt know he is a victim and slave of brain disorder.

he actually goes by Nordic Sheet ;)
00:00 February 2, 2010 by Da Goat
Just been reading about the mice, can I put my hand up to claim the polish slave girls I promise to keep them in the way the are now accustomed to!
00:02 February 2, 2010 by glamelixir
I know people here in Sweden who have been offered 3000 kr to be a nanny and cook working 8 hours a day for families in Lidingo.

Had a well educated friend from Brazil that could only get a job as a nanny in Ostermalm. She was payed 45 kr an hour.

It is more common than we think.
00:23 February 2, 2010 by wenddiver
Apparently Polish girls in Sweden are very different, the ones in Chicago will kick your butt.
01:15 February 2, 2010 by kadampa


I believe you misread the article. The girls were promised 10,000 a month to trick them in to coming over.

Real wages:

"According to the charge sheet one of the women in fact received 8 kronor a day for four months, while another received no money at all."
01:28 February 2, 2010 by DAVID T
lavishly furnished three bedroom apartment in the Stockholm suburb of Solna don't come cheap - who knows - maybe the polish girls fell out with her and decided to lie
09:06 February 2, 2010 by Kemi
Yeah, right, blame the state, blame the father, everything but yourself...

Don't put it as if she had no other choices, that's just bull. Her maybe difficult economical situations is no excuse for such evil act.

Why should a woman who has no form of income sh*t out 4 kids in the first place? Such stupid genes should just be left to the hands of Natural selection for elimination instead of being supported by the society.
09:07 February 2, 2010 by karex
@Nordic Prince

It's not so difficult to imagine under which circumstances people can get stuck in a situation like this: illegal immigrants have no visa, no personal number, etc... They can't just apply for a job ad in the papers. That's how you find engineers working as nannies and cooks - they're outside of the system. People need to learn that when they sneak into a country illegally they have no protection.
09:13 February 2, 2010 by Craptastical

Indeed, for some reason I completely missed that part.

FWIW, I do hope that the truth of this comes out in full.

If the woman who offered them work is found guilty of the charges then I hope she doesn't just have her wrists slapped. I hope she gets locked away, fined, and forced to pay what's owed to the girls plus paying Skatteverket the employer's tax + interest + penalties for not declaring it in the first place.

If it turns out that the girls are participating in extortion then they should also be severely punished for making a false report.
10:01 February 2, 2010 by wifey

I totally agree. And so there is a lesson to be learned - don't be an illegal alien! Especially if you are from an EU country. It's not THAT hard to get a permit. And even if it is a bit difficult and time consuming, at the end of the day you are covered. Things like this happen very often to illegal immigrants, they just don't seem to learn from other proples mistakes. Ehhh....
10:41 February 2, 2010 by hanavys

I don't know if you are aware of it, but if you are a citizen of an EU country, you can't be illegal in Sweden (there are exception on work permits in some countries directed at other countries, but this is not the case). You have the same rights and obligations as the local citizens.

IMHO, what you don't realize about the situation of the Polish girls is that they didn't have any money to buy a ticket back home and possibly couldn't speak English or Swedish well enough to report the woman to the police until one of them found out a way to do it and reported her to the Embassy. If they were really kept as slaves, don't you think that the doors to their little closet would be also locked?

I've heard a lot of cases of similar mistreatment from the UK, so it's really quite common. People get for instance blackmailed into serving their "masters" by threats of being reported to the police for stealing from them. It doesn't matter if the slaves are in fact legal immigrants, no one wants to go to jail for stealing in a foreign country.
11:35 February 2, 2010 by peropaco
@hanavys ,

That is not totally correct. In Sweden they don't grant you immediate privilege (work permit or social security number) if you are an EU citizen. People who tend to have those jobs processing those papers are not the sharpest knives in the bunch and you get the run around just like a Somaly refugee. I know this firsthand. So these Polish girls not knowing their EU rights were probably subjected to the same treatment I experienced as a EU citizen in Sverige. Furthermore they look upon Polish people as labourers and scumbags employing them really take advantage of them.
11:49 February 2, 2010 by Puffin
According to an interview in Expressen the woman is denying 'slave wages' and is quoted as claiming to have paid them an 'agreed' wage of 2000 kr per month

However one of the women claims that she received only 1080 kr for 4 months work
12:02 February 2, 2010 by hanavys

Yes, you have to register with the authorities, but in fact you are allowed to work from the first day you arrive when you are an EU citizen. The problem is that you can't work without personal number etc. That's a different matter and I think it should be looked into by EU bureaucrats because it's against the EU rules. Or someone should sue Sweden over this.

The truth is that these girls were not illegal immigrants, but probably came to Sweden to work as au pairs which comes under different rules than normal jobs.
12:04 February 2, 2010 by Thompsuleme
She(the accused) should be tried ASAP and sentenced(if found guilty) decisevly.I know a case like this in the States and the victims were only discovered by a chance call from social service. The wife got 15 and hubby got 10yrs for just sticking around and observing ;)Point is, the system must not condone these acts of serious rights violation.

Justice must be served
12:01 February 3, 2010 by wifey

thanks! I know EXACTLY where you're coming from...


I am well aware of the situation. I am an EU member myslef, living in Sweden on a residency permit. By EU law, Poles and other EU members can stay in Sweden without a permit for a period of 3 months. And a personnumer is not enough. You have to have a residence permit. And yes, you can start work immediately and THEN go through the whole process but as you said, you close to no one will hire you. BUT- to get a personnumer is one thing, to get a permit is another.

Other than that, there are a LOT of 'illegal' EU citizens in Sweden who just can't be bothered to follow regulations and expect the world....
14:41 February 3, 2010 by hanavys

Yes, you are of course right about the procedures. But anyway, all those "illegals" from EU are not real illegals because they can simply cross the border to another EU country (and get evidence that they did) and they can stay as long as they wish. It is their decision and they must be aware of the fact that it brings all sorts of other problems (availability of jobs, social security etc.).

I just wanted to point out that no EU member citizen is in fact really "illegal." And if they are it's their choice and risk. So they should theoretically be in much better situation than the usual outside EU illegals. They are not completely stripped of their rights and still you can see that things like this can happen to them too. Because this was not a matter of illegal or legal immigrants, but a matter of economic dependency, abuse and threats (very similar to domestic violence cases in many aspects).
16:44 February 3, 2010 by wifey

evidence of crossing a border? what exactly do you mean???? I've NEVER received such! Unless you mean a plane/boat ticket....
17:53 February 3, 2010 by hanavys

I meant something like that to prove that you crossed the border and stayed at least one day outside the country. You are right that it is kind of problematic to get something like that nowadays, but still if you have boat tickets or boarding passes with your name on them, they cannot prove that you didn't leave the country.

I'm guessing that in the case of the slave aupairs, it was also a short term job, so they probably didn't even bother with the technicalities of residence permit etc. But it was also their downfall because otherwise they would be registered and their wages would be official etc....
Today's headlines
Gothenburg 'one of Europe's most segregated cities'
An Isis flag in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photo: Uncredited/AP

One in ten school students in Gothenburg's north-eastern suburbs sympathize with religious extremist organizations, according to a survey.

Julian Assange
Sweden won't suspend Assange warrant for funeral
Assange has been in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. Photo: Alastair Grant/AP

The WikiLeaks founder has requested a temporary suspension of an arrest warrant so he could leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the funeral of his mentor.

Swedish football diehard who went viral doesn't get the fuss
Possibly the most dedicated fan in the world. Photo: Patric Söderström/TT

A picture of Gefle IF celebrating with the only fan to make a 1164km round trip to see them has gone viral. The Local spoke to the diehard in question.

'I want to see women priests in the Catholic Church'
Archbishop Antje Jackelén meeting Pope Francis earlier in 2016. Photo: L'Osservatore Romano/AP

'I told the pope last year during a speech it is time to no longer speak for women about women, but to speak with women,' Sweden's Archbishop says.

Sweden one of world's easiest places to do business: report
A meeting at a Stockholm office. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

It is easier to do business in Sweden now than it was last year, according to a World Bank report.

This Swede has built a procrastinator's dream
Anders Åberg has built a website that allows you to hear what’s going on above the Earth. Photo: Personal & NASA

Ever wondered what's going on in the sky above the earth and in space? Now you can hear for yourself.

Presented by Malmö Tourism
Seven reasons why Malmö is the football capital of Sweden
Players from FC Rosengård, Sweden's most successful women's football team. Photo: Hangsna

It’s official, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.

Fake police car driver seized after confronting real police
File photo of a police car. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Three men in a fake police car were left red-faced after they tried to stop a man in southern Sweden who turned out to be an off-duty officer.

This tiny bird can fly for ten months straight: scientists
The common swift while not in flight. Photo: Madis Veskimeister/Wikimedia

Swedish scientists have found that this bird stays in the air for almost a year without landing.

Why the Pope is visiting Sweden next week
Pope Francis in the Vatican. Photo: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Pope to nail reconciliation agenda to Lutherans' door in southern Sweden.

Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
Antonio, 19, is a Syrian refugee and porn actor hoping to change perceptions of refugees
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 26th
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available