Meet the ‘super mothers’ making a Stockholm suburb safer

A group of 'super mothers' have told The Local how they calmed the streets of a Stockholm suburb by commanding respect from the area's youths.

Meet the 'super mothers' making a Stockholm suburb safer
A group of mothers in Fittja patrol the streets of the Stockholm suburb to make it safer. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Fatma Ipek has been running Kvinnokraft (woman power) in Stockholm suburb Fittja since 2016. The idea is simple but effective: a group of local women go out and walk the streets together in an effort to encourage calm and order among the young people there.

“The project has been going for two years and there's definitely changes. We've created a safer feeling, we hope there will be more changes in the future,” Ipek told The Local.

The scene of unrest during the Stockholm riots of 2013, Fittja has struggled with social problems for a number of years, and was one of six 'risk areas' in Sweden named in a report by Swedish police in 2015.

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Many of its residents have a Turkish background, and according to Ipek, the roll of mothers in Turkish culture means that they command a kind of respect from the youngsters that even the police aren't able to call upon:

“The young people have reacted differently, but the majority of Fittja's residents have the same culture and according to our culture you respect mothers, which we have seen a lot of when we're out walking”.

“Many think it's fun and come up to us to greet us, some think it's uncomfortable because you’re not supposed to look stupid in front of mums according to our culture. The positive thing is that the kids listen to us, if we say something to them they listen to us and move on or stop what they're doing. Whether that's temporary not not I can't answer,” she added.

That doesn't mean the project has been straightforward however. The original idea was for both men and women to be involved, Ipek explained, but some men didn't take kindly to the idea of women leading the charge and pro-actively trying to make a difference in the area.

“We walked together with men before but we couldn't cooperate and didn't agree. There were some who thought that us women should sit at home, they didn't want to walk with us,” she noted.

That wasn't going to deter her however:

“I had the idea, moved forward with it and showed everyone that we're super mothers, and that even if we are around 50-60 years old we can cause a change. And no, we don't belong at home with the housework”.

Asked if the project's success could be exported to other areas, the Kvinnokraft founder said that she wishes other parents had thought to do the same.

“Yes, why not? It would have been so much better if previous parents went out and walked around the suburbs to make a change,” she concluded.


Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.