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

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.

'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

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In the film, based on an unpublished autobiography Nilsson had been working on before she died, her sister and friends tell of the violence the artist suffered at the hands of her then-partner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