'Love immigrants' need more support adjusting to life in Sweden
18 Jul 2012, 15:00
Published: 18 Jul 2012 15:00 GMT+02:00
People flee or migrate to Sweden to seek protection, work or love.
Whatever the reason, it's important that they can support themselves and feel like they are part of society as quickly as possible.
In recent decades, integration hasn't worked well, which is why sweeping reforms are underway. The government is now focusing specifically on how to improve the ways immigrant women make their entry into Swedish society.
A part of this work is to ensure that non-European relatives who also migrate to Sweden can participate in society orientation programmes.
Far too many women who have immigrated to Sweden have had difficulty getting a job, and hence lack the control over their daily lives that a salary brings. Both women who come here as refugees, as well as women who have immigrated to our country to start a family with Swedish men find it difficult to find their place in the new society.
One group that has run into difficulties and attracted attention recently consists of so-called "love immigrants" who move to Sweden to be with their partners.
When these women don't get jobs, they become totally dependent on the man's financial support and network of contacts. In the worst cases, their daily life can be reduced to one of violence and isolation.
Thousands of foreign women have been forced to seek protection from violence after coming to Sweden to marry a Swedish man. Thousands of children are also affected, as shown by an inquiry presented recently in Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) by Värmland County Governor and Liberal Party politician Eva Eriksson.
It's shameful that women who immigrate to one of the world's most equality-conscious countries find themselves caught up in a daily life marked by violence and oppression. The inquiry proposes a series of measures. Not least, it is about preventing unscrupulous men from systematically and repeatedly bringing women here and using them for a short period of time. The government is currently analyzing the proposals and will send them out for comment shortly.
However, we already present a first step, a step in the right direction: allowing non-European family members of immigrants who have already come to Sweden - such as love immigrants - to participate in society orientation classes.
The proposal is estimated to cost around 40 million kronor ($5.7 million).
Today, society orientation classes offered to refugees, those in need of protection, and their relatives.
The aim is to provide newcomers with knowledge about and an understanding of Swedish society. It is a tool for new arrivals to more easily get around in the new country. Society orientation is about the values which are fundamental in Swedish society - human rights, democracy and equality.
The classes are about the rights and obligations you have as an individual in Sweden. They also provide knowledge about how Swedish society is organized and the practicalities of everyday life.
Today, society orientation programmes aren't offered to immigrating relatives of someone who already lives in Sweden. But when it comes to relatives immigrating to Sweden from countries outside Europe, there are many signs indicating a great need for social orientation.
One thing many non-European immigrating relatives have in common is that their social networks are often completely dependent on the networks of those to whom they move to Sweden to be with.
Previously, it was judged that these social networks would be sufficient to help the new arrivals integrate into Swedish society.
But employment rates tell a different story. Too many of the women who have immigrated to a man in Sweden have a hard time getting a job. Therefore, all non-Europeans immigrant relatives who come to Sweden will be offered society orientation classes in order to facilitate their entry into the job market and into Swedish society.
We need to do more to ensure that those who immigrate to our country have a chance to find work and become a part of Swedish society.
Those who immigrate need to learn what Swedish gender equality means and where they can turn for help.
Relatives who immigrate to Sweden also need to network here to avoid the risk of becoming isolated.
By also offering society orientation to them, we can take a first step toward giving them a better start and more opportunities in their new country.
Minister for Gender Equality
Minister for Integration
This article was first published on in Swedish in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper