Domestic violence increases in the summer months in Sweden, a fresh statistics report shows, while new proposals for tackling the broader problem have been slated by a national women's group.
Last year almost 2000 women reported that they had been abused during the summer, a significant increase in comparison to the summer of 2004, where the number of cases was 1500, according to a new report by Statistics Sweden (SCB) which was commissioned by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily.
According to Åsa Witkowski, at national women's helpline Kvinnofridslinjen, two of the key factors behind the summer increase are spending more time with the family and increased alcohol consumption.
"Time off and alcohol trigger destructive behaviour," Witkovski told DN.
"I think the summer period is a time when you are more exposed, you spend more time with the family and it is also more trying for the family. This leads to more fighting and more violence."
Witkovski pointed out furthermore that a lot of other operations which help women in violent relationships typically shut down during the summer. Kvinnofridslinjen is however an exception to the rule.
"We are open while everyone else is on summer leave."
The broader problem of domestic violence against women has been in the spotlight recently after a new report by the government-appointed national domestic violence co-ordinator, Carin Götblad.
Götblad's recommendations include pilot projects for helping the children of abusive parents, permits for sheltered housing and reforming domestic violence legislation tom make it gender neutral, a move which critics fear will force women's refuges to accept male victims.
"We have seen how it has ended in Norway, where the women's aid groups must accept men in their protected housing. It is a development we do not wish to see here," Karin Svensson, chairwoman of the National Organisation for Women’s Shelters and Young Women's Shelters in Sweden (Roks), said in a statement.
Svensson also questioned the conclusion that men's violence against women is closely tied to alcohol abuse and mental health problems.
"That is not the reality we face at the women's shelters. On the contrary the perpetrators are usually well-functioning men without substance abuse problems," she said.
Svensson however agrees with Åsa Witkovski's description of the problems of providing sufficient support to victims of domestic violence in the summer time.
"Our shelters are relatively full all summer. Perhaps because it is even more difficult to pass the women on, the housing corporations are on leave and the continuing chain of help is broken," she told DN.
"My view is that the violence goes on all year round, but holidays can change the possibilities for individuals to reach out and receive help."