Report on initiatives to combat Violence against Women,
including Domestic Violence
Denmark, April 2008
(Prepared for the Meeting of National Focal Points of the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including domestic violence, Strasbourg, 21 – 22 April 2008)
National Action Plans
The Danish initiatives to combat Violence against women has since 2002 been outlined in National Action Plans. In 2002, the Government’s first action plan to combat violence against women was launched (2002-2004). The first action plan contributed to breaking the taboo surrounding domestic violence against women, but there is a need for maintaining focus on the problem.
Therefore, on 20 April 2005 the Minister for Gender Equality presented a new four-year “Action Plan to Combat Men’s Domestic Violence against Women and Children 2005-2008”.
The activities of the Action Plan for 2005-2008 focus on prevention and the integration of the initiatives within the four main areas of concern:
· Support for the victims,
· Activities targeted at the perpetrator,
· Activities targeted at professionals,
· Development and promotion of knowledge and information.
For the period 2005-2008, a total of DKK 60 million has been earmarked for the action plan. Subsequently, another DKK 48 million has been allocated for a project under the heading “Support and treatment aimed at women and children victims of domestic violence”, as well as a total of DKK 15 million for the years 2007-2010 to strengthen treatment for violent men. The money has been allocated to three different treatment facilities in Denmark.
The Danish action plan involves five ministries: the Ministry of Health and Prevention; the Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Minister for Gender Equality. As chairman of the inter-ministerial working group to combat violence against women, the Department of Gender Equality holds the steering role regarding the implementation of the action plan. The inter-ministerial working group monitors the implementation and publishes an annual situation report on the implementation. The situation report is submitted to, among others, the Folketing.
An independent evaluation has been drawn up of the Government’s first action plan to combat violence against women 2002-2004. Similarly, in the course of 2008 an independent evaluation will be conducted of the most recent action plan. This evaluation is to constitute the background to future action to combat violence against women.
Legal and policy measures
Violence against women is an infringement of the Danish Criminal Code. In addition, the Government regards violence against women as a reflection of a lack of equality and respect between women and men. It is estimated that approximately 70,000 women aged 16-64 are exposed to physical violence on an annual basis. In 40 per cent of the total number of violence cases, the perpetrator is a present or former partner, which means that approximately 28,000 women aged 16-64 are the victims of partner violence every year. In the period 2000-2005, there was an estimated fall of one third in the number of women victims of partner violence (for details, see the section: indicators on violence against women).
It is estimated that approximately 29,000 children aged 0-15 are the victims of domestic violence on an annual basis. Approximately 2,000 women and a similar number of children move into shelters every year.
Support and protection for victims
Denmark has approximately 45 women shelters, the vast majority of which are financed through the public system. Every year separate statistics are drawn up for women and children respectively at shelters. The annual statistics are published in both Danish and English. In 2006, a total of 1,699 women and 1,634 children stayed at the 36 shelters that participate in the annual statistics of LOKK (National Organisation of Shelters for Battered Women and their Children).
Disabled women - victims of violence
A total of DKK 9 million was earmarked for a three-year project to develop methods regarding physically disabled women staying at shelters (2005-2007). The project, which will maintain its activities in 2008, is a continuation of the efforts to make selected shelters physically accessible to users of wheelchairs and other battered women and children with serious physical disabilities. Eight shelters nationwide participate in the project. In 2006, a total of 40 women with disabilities had stayed at a shelter for short or long periods of time. In addition to the specific initiatives for battered women with a disability, these women are also part of the group at which the general services for battered women are targeted. The problem will, for example, be part of the nationwide educational days for professionals which will take place in 2008.
The proportion of women staying at shelters who were born outside Denmark dropped to 43 per cent in 2006 from 50 per cent in 2005. Similarly, compared with 2005 there was a minor drop in the percentage of women without Danish nationality. In 2006, a total of 27 per cent did not have Danish nationality compared with 32 per cent in 2005. The majority (64 per cent) of the women who are not Danish nationals reside in Denmark on the basis of family reunification. Women who have been reunited with family members have in general spent more time at shelters than other women. The average period of time for women reunited with family members is 71 days, whereas the group of Danish nationals account for an average of 32 days spent at shelters.
Activities for children and young people
At primary and lower secondary schools and youth education programmes throughout the country, an information campaign has run since 2005 on domestic violence and violence between dating adolescents. The campaign includes representatives of the local shelter, the local police and two young girls. One of the girls has grown up with domestic violence, and the other experienced dating violence as a teenager. The participants tell about domestic violence with focus on “violence against mother” and about violence between dating adolescents. The events are, furthermore, attended by a rap musician who sings about violence in the family and violence between dating adolescents. In addition, a film is shown about violence between dating adolescents, and CDs with the rap musician are distributed. Support has subsequently been provided for similar information campaigns targeted at teacher training colleges throughout the country.
Funds have been allocated for a digital children’s network called “Børnelinket” (children’s link), which is a chat room for children and young people exposed to domestic violence. The objective is to strengthen the action regarding children and young people suffering from domestic violence by giving the target group the opportunity to communicate with other children and young people in similar situations.
In cooperation with a number of project municipalities, the Ministry of Social Welfare has launched a placement project to support battered women and children to establish a life without violence after a period of time spent at a women’s shelter. In connection with the project, methods will be developed to support especially children who grow up with domestic violence in their homes.
In connection with the 2008 agreement on the rate adjustment pool scheme, a total of DKK 30 million (2008-2011) has been allocated for an out-patient treatment facility targeted at battered women and children who for various reasons do not use the shelters. The objective of the project is for the mothers to reduce the consequences of violence and to help the mothers to regain parental competence. The action for the children is to reduce the consequences of violence and strengthen the child’s development opportunities. In connection with the same agreement on the rate adjustment pool scheme, DKK 4.5 million has been granted to the NGO for Children Exposed to Violence at Home in support of a comprehensive campaign to prevent domestic violence and violence between dating adolescents as well as to break the vicious circle of negative social heritage. The results are to be achieved through information campaigns including educational establishments, cafés, dentists and general practitioners, children’s wards of hospitals, shopping centres and by advertising on the Internet. Save the Children has been granted DKK 6 million for strengthened efforts to combat IT-related sexual assaults on children, including the fight against child pornography on the Internet.
Activities targeted at professionals
In order to ensure sustainability of the efforts and integration of this work among the responsible authorities, the action plans contain various initiatives targeted at the professional front-line personnel who are to support and counsel battered women. In 2005-2007, a number of course activities were implemented for employees and volunteers at shelters regarding the encounter with and methods in the work to help battered women with an ethnic minority background. Similarly, the National Organisation of Shelters for Battered Women and their Children (LOKK) has published a series of leaflets and reports on experience gained in the area. Furthermore, the Danish National Police have invited LOKK to cooperate on combating violence against women.
In 2008, a nationwide educational campaign will be organised for professionals in this field. In addition to front-line staff among the police, social authorities, health authorities, etc., the campaign will also address the managerial level within local authorities.
Other initiatives to support the victims of violence
In connection with the action plan to combat violence against women 2005-2008, funds have been allocated for legal support targeted at battered women and at professionals. Shelters, other organisations and authorities are offered individual counselling as well as more general guidance regarding legal issues.
Support has also been granted for emergency psychological assistance to battered women at shelters for the period 2005-2008. The scheme has been used by shelters throughout the country.
In the period 2006-2008, the Danish Red Cross has received support to develop and strengthen a nationwide service including after-protection/networks for battered women once these have left a shelter. The project has placed special focus on ethnic minority women who have been exposed to violence.
Indicators on violence against women
In 2004 and again in 2007, Denmark collected statistics and information about men’s violence against women. The 2004 survey based on figures from 2000 showed that approximately 64,000 women are exposed to physical violence every year. Out of these, approximately 42,000 women are the victims of a violent former or present partner. The 2007 survey based on figures from 2005 showed that approximately 70,000 women are exposed to violence on an annual basis. Out of these, 28,000 women are the victims of a violent former or present partner. It means in other words that in the period 2000-2005 there was an estimated decrease of 14,000, i.e. a third, in the number of women victims of partner violence. During the Danish EU Presidency in 2002, Denmark succeeded in having adopted seven common EU indicators regarding violence against women. The indicators are a follow-up on the Beijing Platform for Action. The two reports with statistics published in both Danish and English bring together information about these seven indicators.
Furthermore, surveys have been initiated regarding partner violence among young women and men respectively (violence between dating adolescents), and the marginalisation of battered women from the labour market. The surveys, which will be presented in the first six months of 2008, are meant to provide knowledge of and insight into these particular problems and thus constitute the basis for enhancing the efficiency of future action in the areas.
In March 2006, the Minister for Gender Equality presented a survey on everyday life and violence in Danish men’s lives with foreign women. The survey’s point of departure was both problems regarding violence against women as well as trafficking in women. It showed among other things that the men had looked for a partner for the purpose of establishing a life together that is normally associated with a couple and marriage based on love, a sense of belonging together, a sex life and a sharing of the practical aspects of life. In about 50 per cent of the cases, the men’s motivation to look for a foreign partner was also associated with difficulties in finding a Danish partner.
Information efforts for specific target groups
A key element of the action to stop violence against women is to make the support for the battered persons more intensive and effective. Special target groups have been: children who are victims of domestic violence, battered women with an ethnic minority background as well as battered women with a disability. However, in addition to improved support, the action has also focused on providing information about ways in which the battered person can find this support and on sending the message that it is important to break the silence in order to get help. The information efforts have at the same time contributed to breaking the silence and the taboo surrounding domestic violence, which used to be a barrier to stopping violence.
In 2002, an information folder was produced and distributed in credit card format: “Stop the violence against women – Break the silence” in Danish and several other languages. In 2006, the leaflet was reprinted, this time in Danish and eight other languages (Danish, English, Arabic, Bosnian, Somali, Turkish, Russian, Thai and Farsi). The publication is available from libraries throughout the country, general practitioners, the police, hospitals, hairdressers, etc. and is furthermore accessible at www.voldmodkvinder.dk. The folder contains information about shelters and specific and practical advice to women exposed to violence. It is meant to give women the necessary push to stand up to a violent man and call a halt to violence. The publication also refers women to the 24-hour hotline: 70 20 30 82, which also includes the services of interpreters.
The official website www.voldmodkvinder.dk remains a key access point to knowledge and information about violence against women. There, battered women can find the addresses of authorities and voluntary organisations offering support and counselling and well as the addresses of shelters in Denmark. The website contains information in Danish and eight other languages.
From autumn 2005 to spring 2006, an information campaign was run addressing ethnic minority women. The campaign focused on the rights of ethnic minority women in connection with children, divorce, violence and finance. The campaign ran at language schools throughout the country. As a supplement to the campaign, the Minister for Gender Equality published a leaflet in January 2006 called “Family, Gender and Rights in Denmark”, which has been translated into seven languages.
The Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs and the Minister for Gender Equality have produced five information films telling ethnic minority women of their rights and opportunities of assistance in Danish society. The films show battered women’s encounters with the police, the shelter, the municipality, the state county and the lawyer. The films are available in ten languages (Danish, Greenlandic, English, Arabic, Urdu, Somali, Turkish, Russian, Thai and Farsi). The films are distributed to, among others, shelters, language schools, day folk high schools for women, counselling facilities for women and ethnic minorities, residents’ counsellors, municipalities and the libraries of relevant educational programmes – for example the Police College and the College of Social Work. The five films are, moreover, available on various websites, including www.lige.dk and www.voldmodkvinder.dk. Communicating information through films means that it is also possible to reach women who cannot read.
Men’s role in the fight against violence
With the two national action plans, focus has been placed on men’s role in the effort to combat violence against women and children; primarily through a clear indication of violent men’s responsibility for putting an end to their destructive conduct.
In this connection, a government-supported treatment facility for violent men has been set up known as Dialogue against Violence (www.dialogmodvold.dk). The initiative was in the first instance established in Copenhagen, but offices have subsequently been opened in the two second largest cities of Århus and Odense. Most recently in 2007, support was allocated for Dialogue against Violence’s front-line emergency teams that are to cooperate with local authorities. At the same time, funding has been granted for the treatment services directed at violent men which are managed by the women’s shelter in Odense and the counselling programme for violent men under the Municipality of Herning.
In August 2007, the Minister for Gender Equality launched a nationwide campaign under the heading: “Be a man – Say no to violence against women”. The key idea of the campaign was to present the typical excuses made by perpetrators of violence and in some cases also by the victims of violence to cover up violence, the bruises and the broken noses, for example: “My wife fell on the bathroom floor again”, “My girlfriend walked into a door again” or “My wife fell down the stairs again”. The campaign included posters on public buses, advertisements, TV spots and a campaign with role models at www.voldmodkvinder.dk. A subsequent assessment of the campaign showed that men who had seen it had changed attitude and to a greater extent condemned violence against women. Download the posters that were hung in buses here:
Denmark’s “Action Plan to stop men’s domestic violence against Women and Children 2005-2008” can be downloaded here: www.lige.dk/files/PDF/MFL_handlingsplan_UK.pdf
Report on national statistics on violence against women 2004 can be downloaded here: ligeuk.itide.dk/files/PDF/Mensviolence.pdf
Summary of the Report on national statistics on violence against women 2007 can be downloaded here: ligeuk.itide.dk/files/PDF/statistics_violence_2007.pdf
Assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign
The Task Force will partly base its assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign to combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence on the following indicators. Please respond by ticking on the boxes.
1. Is any and every act of violence against women criminalised in your country?
YES q X NO q
Domestic violence against women is a criminal offence in accordance with Section 244 of the Danish Criminal Code, which is the general provision regarding violence. Section 244 states, that any person who commits an act of violence against, or otherwise attacks the person of others, shall be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for any term not exceeding three years. (unofficial translation)
2. Is violence committed by a partner or former partner punished more severely than violence among strangers (eg. gender based violence as such or the abuse of power will be considered an aggravating circumstance)?
YES q NO q X
3. Are victims enabled to seek justice in a human manner (eg. specialised courts on domestic violence, specialised units within the police, the public prosecutor or the judiciary)?
YES q NO q X
4. Does a national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?
YES q X NO q
5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your member state? 1
YES q X NO q
Denmark has 45 crisis centres for women and children, victims of domestic violence. The National Association of Shelters (www.lokk.dk) makes annual statistics, where data from 36 crisis centres are included. According to these statistics the 36 centres has room for 355 women and 396 children. This equals a capacity for 20 women out of every 100.000 women in the relevant age groups.
6. Is administrative data being collected on victims of domestic violence?
YES q X NO q
More information is available in the national report on data and statistics on violence against women:
7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?
YES q NO q X
Note 1 The Blueprint of the Council of Europe Campaign recommends a ratio for one place in a woman’s shelter per 7.500 inhabitants.