State funds fail to cut violence against women

Violence against women remains at the same level in Sweden as three years ago despite a 1 billion kronor ($147 million) government push to address the problem, a new report published on Wednesday has concluded.

The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebgganderådet – Brå) has been commissioned to evaluate the government’s initiative launched in 2007 to raise awareness of the issue of violence against women, honour-related violence and violence within same sex relationships.

The council published its findings on Wednesday and concluded that the billion kronor spent has had little impact on the incidence of violence but declined to suggest the money had been wasted, arguing that knowledge and expertise had increased and should be maintained.

“It is important that, for example, education is not a one off investment – otherwise we risk that the plan of action will just fizzle out,” said Stina Holmberg at Brå.

The council has noted that over 500 projects have been launched since the initiative began including new organisations to help victims and projects to increase coordination between actors working with women subjected to male violence.

Furthermore, some 10,000 police officers and a further 2,300 people working within the judicial system have received training over the course of the initiative.

“The government funds have thus enabled municipalities and voluntary groups the opportunity to try out new ways of working. The extent to which these projects will survive when the allocated funds run out, is however uncertain,” Brå’s report concluded.

While the level of violence metered out to women remains at the same level, there are more women reporting crimes, the report showed, suggesting that work to raise awareness of the problem could have been an explanatory factor.

Holmberg dwelled on the positive, arguing that more work is needed to make an impact on the actual incidence of violence.

“More women choose to report and that is good. However it is not realistic to see the effects in the form of a clear decline in men’s violence against women already now. For that more long-term and perhaps more underlying society initiatives are required,” she said.

According to The Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres (SKR), 25,000 women are the victims of assault every year in Sweden, a figure which has increased dramatically over the past decade. Around 16 women per year are killed by a male relation or partner.

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