'Men need to change' to end violence against women: Swedish Justice Minister

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'Men need to change' to end violence against women: Swedish Justice Minister
Sweden's Justice Minister Morgan Johansson spoke after a documentary about Josefin Nilsson, right, put the spotlight on domestic violence. Photo: Karl Melander/Fredrik Persson/TT

A new documentary about a Swedish artist who was assaulted by her partner, a well-known Swedish actor, has stirred debate about violence against women in the Nordic country.


The number of women who have reported being assaulted by a partner has decreased since 2015, when the Swedish government vowed to implement a national strategy against domestic violence.

In 2017 just below 10,000 cases were reported to the police. But when national number crunchers Statistics Sweden in 2014 carried out a survey on behalf of the National Centre for Knowledge on Men's Violence Against Women, based at Uppsala University, a total of 14 percent of Swedish women (almost half a million) said they had been exposed to violence or the threat of violence in a relationship.

A documentary about Josefin Nilsson, a well-known Swedish singer who passed away in 2016 from an enlarged heart and accidental overdose of prescription drugs, this week put the issue back on the agenda.

READ ALSO: One year on, what did #MeToo achieve in Sweden?

In the film, based on an unpublished autobiography Nilsson had been working on before she died, her sister and friends tell of the violence the artist suffered at the hands of her then-partner back in the 90s.

Her ex-partner, who is not among those Swedish stars who have made a big name for themselves abroad, but is domestically one of the country's most well-known theatre and movie actors, was convicted in court in the late 90s for assault. Nilsson received psychological and physical injuries that never healed. The actor was never named by Swedish media, but has continued acting in major theatre productions since.

The Royal Dramatic Theatre – Sweden's national theatre stage – on Monday said it had decided to end one of its ongoing productions early after widespread criticism and protests outside its doors.

Sweden's Culture Minister Amanda Lind said she would meet with theatre bosses, starting with the Royal Dramatic Theatre on Tuesday, to discuss their work to combat sexual harassment.

Sweden's Justice Minister Morgan Johansson welcomed that the documentary highlights violence against women, and said that more things needed to be done to crack down on the overall issue.

"It's structural oppression. Us men need to change our attitudes to stop this," he told newswire TT.

He said a series of law changes in the past years strongly condemn violence against women.

"But I would wish that more men came out and distanced themselves from humiliation and abuse of women even in daily life," Johansson added.

READ ALSO: What does the #MeToo campaign reveal about Swedish feminism?


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