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CRIME

Victims of fatal domestic violence double in Sweden

The number of people in Sweden killed by a partner or ex-partner more than doubled between 2017 and 2018, new statistics from National Council on Crime Prevention (Brå) show.

Victims of fatal domestic violence double in Sweden
Stockholm's Globe arena lit up to raise awareness of violence against women. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The potential cause of the increase is not yet clear, but an expert at Brå told The Local the high figure was “surprising”.

Overall, the number of cases of deadly violence in Sweden fell slightly in 2018, but remains at a high level with 108 such cases reported, down from 113 the year before (of which five victims were killed in the April terror attack, including four women). The term 'deadly violence' refers to crimes classified as murder, manslaughter, and assault which led to the victim's death.

One of the biggest changes year on year was the proportion of incidents of deadly violence in which the perpetrator was a partner or ex-partner of the victim. 

Almost a quarter of the cases, 26 in total, were carried out by a partner or ex-partner – more than twice as many as the previous year, when there were only 11 such cases. 

Although most victims of deadly violence were male (69 percent), most people killed by a partner or ex-partner were women, with this kind of violence accounting for 67 percent of all murders of women: 22 women in total.

Only five percent of the men who were victims of deadly violence were attacked by a partner or ex-partner.

The proportion of women who were victims of deadly violence in general remained unchanged; a Brå report from 2017 stated that “the victim is a woman in around a third of all cases of deadly violence, and this has been the case throughout the 25 years that Brå has collected information”. This was also the case in 2018. 

Over the period 2012-2017, an average of 25 women died each year because of deadly violence, but the number who died at the hands of their current or former partner was around half that figure.

Between 1990-1995, an average of 17 women died each year at the hands of a current or former partner, a figure that fell to 14 women each year by the period 2010-2015. In 2014, a total of 16 women were killed by a partner or an ex, and 12 women were killed in 2015.

In 2018, 22 women and four men died due to domestic violence, meaning that the figure for women (Brå did not have available figures for men) was much higher than the average figures from the past few decades.

“The number of 22 is very high over average, so it's surprising, actually,” Nina Forelius from Brå told The Local.

However, she noted that variations sometimes occur year-to-year, and that the apparent stark rise “doesn't necessarily mean anything” in terms of long-term trends or specific causes. 

She added that the figures were “statistics, not an analysis” and said: “In June, Brå is releasing a research report, which is an in-depth study [into deadly violence] in which we'll look at perpetrators, methods, and this kind of factor.”

If you need to speak to someone about domestic violence, you can contact Kvinnofridslinjen, Sweden's National Women's Helpline on 020-50 50 50, or Akillesjouren, a helpline for men suffering from domestic violence, on 08-29 63 99.

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CRIME

Gang violence tops voter concerns ahead of Swedish election

Gang shootings have escalated and spread across Sweden in recent years, with authorities struggling to contain the war-like violence that now tops voters' concerns ahead of Sunday's general election.

Gang violence tops voter concerns ahead of Swedish election

“This is my son, Marley, when he was 19 years old”, Maritha Ogilvie tells AFP, holding a framed photo of a smiling young man, one of many that adorn the walls of her Stockholm apartment.

“He was shot in the head sitting in a car with a friend”, says the 51-year-old. The killing, on March 24, 2015 in Vårby gård, a disadvantaged concrete
suburb southwest of Stockholm, has never been resolved and the case was closed 10 months later.

Murders like these are usually settlings of scores between rival gangs often controlled by immigrant clans, according to police, and are increasingly taking place in public places in broad daylight.

The violence is primarily attributed to battles over the drug and weapons market and personal vendettas.

It has escalated to the point where Sweden — one of the richest and most egalitarian countries in the world — now tops the European rankings for fatal
shootings.

According to a report published last year by the National Council for Crime Prevention, among 22 countries with comparable data, only Croatia had more
deadly shootings, and no other country posted a bigger increase than Sweden in the past decade.

Shopping mall execution

Despite various measures introduced by the Social Democratic government to crack down on the gangs — including tougher prison sentences and boosting police resources — the number of dead and injured continues to mount.

Since January 1, 48 people have been killed by firearms in Sweden, three more than in all of 2021. There are also frequent bombings of homes and cars and grenade attacks.

For the first time, crime has dislodged the usual welfare state issues of health care and education and is one of Swedes’ main concerns in Sunday’s election.

While the violence was once contained to locations frequented by criminals, it has now spread to public spaces, sparking concern among ordinary Swedes in a country long known as safe and peaceful. On August 19, a 31-year-old man identified as a gang leader in Sweden’s third biggest city Malmö was gunned down in the Emporia shopping centre, several months after the death of his brother.

A 15-year-old was arrested for the murder.

A week later, a young woman and her son were wounded by stray bullets as they played in a park in Eskilstuna, a quiet town of 67,000 people west of
Stockholm.

The right-wing opposition, led by the conservative Moderates and the far-right Sweden Democrats who hope to wrest power from the Social Democrats,
have vowed to restore “law and order”. Defending the left from allegations of laxism, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has promised a “national offensive” against the scourge which poses “a threat to all of Sweden”.

‘Parallel societies’

According to Andersson, the escalating crime numbers are due to the emergence of “parallel societies” following “too much immigration and too little integration”.

Jacob Fraiman, an ex-gangster who now helps other criminals leave that life behind, says even he is shocked by the level of violence.

“I’m from another generation, obviously we had weapons too. But it wasn’t often you had to shoot someone”, he tells AFP in Södertälje, an industrial town south of Stockholm with a large immigrant population. “You used to shoot someone in the legs. Now, they’re told to shoot in the head”, he says.

At the police station in Rinkeby, one of Stockholm’s disadvantaged suburbs, 26-year-old patrol cop Michael Cojocaru says he and his colleagues regularly encounter brutal violence reminiscent of war and seize assault weapons, grenades and explosives.

“You’ll see wounds, people who’ve been shot with AK47s, who’ve been stabbed, people who have war wounds”, he tells AFP. “It’s like a totally different society … another type of Sweden”.

Experts attribute the escalating violence to a series of factors, including segregation, integration and economic difficulties for immigrants, and a large
black market for weapons.

The recruitment of young teens into criminal gangs — who aren’t tried as adults if they get caught — is also a major concern.

Seven years later, Maritha Ogilvie is still trying to understand why her son was killed. “He was just a normal kid”.

“I don’t know what happened with our society. I don’t know how they lost control over certain areas, but they did”, she sighs. “And it keeps on getting
worse”.

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