”We apologize today for society’s betrayal,” the Riksdag speaker Per Westerberg said in front of a crowd of 1,300 gathered in Stockholm City Hall for the official reconciliation ceremony.
”Swedish society is today asking you, men and women, without reservations or extenuating circumstances, for forgiveness. The moral guilt is carried by the whole of Swedish society,” he said.
Westerberg stressed that all children are entitled to a loving and safe upbringing, and that a child should never be allowed to suffer when parents can’t live up to their responsibilities.
”Society was responsible for making sure that you were provided with a good upbringing, but instead you were abandoned.”
However, according to Westerberg, the revelations of abuse and neglect from the testimonies of the foster children has appalled all of society.
”And today Sweden officially admits its failure,” he said.
Swedish minister for the elderly, Maria Larsson, said in her speech that she had been deeply affected by the stories. That there had been no one who loved the children to hug them or who had listened to them.
”And if someone finally dared talk about their vulnerability, they weren’t believed. It is a unbearable thought. That a disconsolate child didn’t have one single person to lean on,” she said.
Larsson said that society should learn from what has been revealed and make sure that it never happens again.
”Childhood can’t be repeated. Lost opportunities can’t always be compensated, but we will do the best we can,” she said, stressing that society must now take every precaution to make sure that the same doesn’t happen again
A storm of protests in September forced the government to reverse an earlier decision that mistreated foster children would go without compensation for the abuse they suffered while in the care of the state.
Following the u-turn, the government agreed on a proposal that every person exposed to “abuse of neglect of a severe nature” between 1920 and 1980 should get 250,000 kronor ($38,000) in compensation.
The Riksdag, however, has yet to reach a decision regarding the matter.