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Female Swedish MPs subject to threats: report

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Female Swedish MPs subject to threats: report
16:50 CEST+02:00
Half of Sweden's female MPs have stated that they had been subjected to threats in the course of their political activities over the past year.

"There were some really awful emails," one of the MPs, Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin, told the Svenska Dagbladet daily which carried out the survey.

"Some of them were really threatening, that my family and I should die. They used words that I would never use," she said.

Some 128 of the Riksdag's 150 women members responded to the survey.

MP Berit Högman, who previously led an inquiry into the incidence of threats, argued that threats directed at politicians were an attack at the heart of the country's democracy.

"The first effect is that we get very silent politician. Secondly, we get politicians who act by proxy. Then it can be tough to get elected officials to stand up for tough issues," she said.

Although the study showed that women MPs were more vulnerable than men, Berit Högman believes that the real figure may be higher among the latter group.

"The men want to keep it a secret to a greater extent that the the women. They were ashamed and didn't want to talk about it," she said referring to the inquiry.

While the threats remain commonplace, Högman believes that a lot has improved since the inquiry's report was submitted in the spring of 2006.

Buildings have become more secure and the protection offered to politicians has been tightened, she observed.

European Affairs Minister Birgitta Ohlsson expressed dismay at the results of the newspaper's survey and raised the issue of tougher penalties for those who threaten politicians.

"I am personally not against a tightening of the law. That is my personal opinion, but Justice Minister Beatrice Ask is responsible for the matter," she said.

Ohlsson argued that politicians should be given the same protection as other public officials and furthermore underlined that it is important that politicians report threats to the police.

Only one in five currently do so and Ohlsson is concerned that the effect of the threats is to silence politicians on certain issues.

"It undermine political transparency if elected officials pursue self-censorship," she said.

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