Final report on the Swedish national Campaign actions within the framework of the Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, Including domestic violence
The Swedish contribution within the framework of the Council of Europe Campaign is a national action plan to combat men’s violence against women, violence and oppression in the name of honor and violence in same-sex relationships. The action plan was adopted in November 2007 and function as a presentation of measures that the government will implement during the mandate period. The measures will be developed and specified during the mandate period. The plan contains 56 measures in the following six areas:
• Increased protection and support to victims of violence,
• greater emphasis on preventive work,
• higher standards and greater efficiency in the judicial system,
• better measures targeting violent offenders,
• increased cooperation and coordination and
• enhanced knowledge and competence.
The Government is allocating a total of more than 80 million euro (SEK 800 million) to implement these measures. Henceforth an account of some of these measures will be presented briefly in compliance with the thematic areas of the Campaign Blueprint. The measures are numbered from their place in the action plan.
1. Legal and policy measures
· Measure 1 – Amendments of the Social Services Act. On 1 July 2007, the Social Services Act (2001:453) was amended in order to further clarify the municipalities’ obligation to help and support crime victims. The revised provision specifies that the social welfare committee shall – instead of as previously should – consider in particular that women subjected to violence and children who have witnessed violence may need support and assistance.
· Measure 17 – Inquiry into stalking. An inquiry is reviewing the question of what measures need to be taken to strengthen protection for people exposed to threat or persecution. The committee of inquiry will consider whether there is a need for supplementary economic support in certain cases where people are exposed to persistent and serious threat or to some other form of serious criminal behavior. The mandate includes reviewing compliance with the rules on protection orders, and preparing and presenting proposals for a legal solution that would enable such orders to be monitored by means of electronic surveillance. The inquiry will also present proposals designed to make day-to-day life easier for people with protected identities. In addition, it will consider whether legislation should be amended so as to strengthen protection against stalking, i.e. persistent harassment and persecution.
· Measure 21 – Inquiry on the municipalities’ responsibility for persons staying within its boundaries. Recently an inquiry was appointed to review the provision in the Social Services Act on the responsibility of municipalities to provide support and assist persons staying within their area.
· Measure 22 – Inquiry to review the Social Services Act and the Care of Young Persons (Special Provisions) Act (1990:52). An inquiry to review the provisions concerning the protection and support of children in vulnerable situations was appointed in December 2007.
· Measure 37 – Evaluation of the provisions concerning gross violation of integrity and gross violation of a woman’s integrity. The Government intends to evaluate the current provisions in the Swedish Penal Code concerning gross violation of integrity and gross violation of a woman’s integrity.
· Measure 38 – Evaluation of legislation on sexual crimes. The Government intends to appoint an inquiry in 2008 to evaluate the legislation on sexual crimes.
· Measure 39 – Stricter view of serious crimes of violence. The Government has instructed an inquiry to consider and propose changes to current penal legislation so as to establish a meeting out of punishment that reflects a stricter judicial view of serious crimes of violence. The inquiry is to look at a number of areas, including assault and violation of integrity.
· Measure 40 – Child marriages and forced marriages. An inquiry has been instructed to analyze whether current legislation offers adequate protection against child and forced marriages in terms of penal sanction.
· Measure 41 – Longer statutory limitation period for female genital mutilation. A ministry memorandum proposes that the statutory limitation period for female genital mutilation be extended so that it only commences once the defendant turns or would have turned 18 years of age. The proposal has been circulated for comment and the Ministry of Justice is preparing legislation in response.
2. Support and protection for victims
A large number of measures in the action plan aim at improving the support and protection for victims of violence. The work and the cooperation between, inter alia, the social services, the judiciary and the health care is crucial for an adequate support and protection for battered women and their children. Therefore the government focus on improving and supporting the work of these actors and also NGO’s working in this field. The work to prevent offenders to use violence is also important in the strive to end violence against women, and measures are taken to strengthen this work. Some examples of these measures:
· Measure 2 – Funds to municipalities to develop and strengthen women shelters. Approximately 11 million euro each year (2007–08) have been allocated to the municipalities in order to support the implementation of the higher level of ambition proposed by the Government in its bill, Social Service Support for Women Exposed to Violence. The funding is distributed by the county administrative boards on application from the municipalities.
· Measure 3 – Improved knowledge within the social services. The National Board of Health and Welfare has been instructed to draft guidance for social services staff and spread information about good examples as regards the social services work with women subjected to violence and children who have witness violence.
· Measure 4 – Intensified supervision of the social services work with battered women and children who have witnessed violence. The National Board of Health and Welfare is responsible for delivering a report on the county administrative board’s supervisory activities.
· Measure 8 – Rights of children who have witnessed violence. A general review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act is going to be initiated during the present term of office. The review is to consider in particular whether the support currently available to children who are forced to live with violence in the family is adequate.
· Measure 10 – Programme for the care of victims of sexual crimes in the health care service. The Government intends to provide Uppsala University with funding so that the National Centre for Knowledge on Men’s Violence against Women (NCK) can develop its mandate to draw up a national programme for the care of victims of sexual crimes.
· Measure 36 Training programme for the improved treatment of sex crime victims in the judicial system. The Criminal Victim Compensation and Support Authority has been instructed to draw up and provide a training programme aimed at improving the treatment of victims of sexual crimes and targeting police authorities, public prosecution offices and courts of law.
· Measure 11 – Regional assignment to counteract violence and oppression in the name of honour. The county administrative boards is to provide funding for measures at local level to prevent violence and oppression in the name of honour.
· Measure 12 – Training for staff providing support and services to people with disabilities. The National Board of Health and Welfare is instructed to produce training materials focusing on the problem of violence directed at women with disabilities.
· Measure 14 – Enhanced knowledge within the misuse care about violence against women. The National Board of Health and Welfare is instructed to compile and disseminate existing knowledge on women subjected to violence, to those working in the misuse care field.
· Measure 28 – Greater security for women in urban environments. The Government intends to allocate funds for the intensification of work aimed at creating a more secure local environment through urban planning with a more pronounced gender equality perspective.
· Measure 29 – Intensified police work to combat men’s violence against women. The National Police Board has been instructed to further intensify its efforts to combat men’s violence against women, violence and oppression in the name of honour and violence in same-sex relationships.
· Measure 44 – Evaluation of methods and procedures used in social service work with violent male offenders. Funding has been allocated to the Institute for Evidence-Based Social Work Practice (IMS) at the National Board of Health and Welfare for the purpose of evaluating and improving current social service-related measures targeting men who use violence.
· Measure 46 – Investment in the work of the Prison and Probation Service targeting violent men. The Prison and Probation Service will get an assignment to introduce additional measures targeting men convicted of sexual crimes and those convicted of violence in close relationships. The measures should be designed to ensure that all men convicted of this type of crime are asked to take part in an appropriate programme.
· Measure 54 – Survey of arranged marriages. The National Board for Youth Affairs are to conduct a survey into the prevalence in Sweden of marriages arranged against the will of one party. The mandate will also include assembling an overview of the knowledge available in this field among relevant agencies.
· Measure 55 – Training mandate. The National Board for Youth Affairs has been assigned to provide training programmes targeting staff charged with coordinating and developing leisure-time activities, social services and education at municipal level. Other groups may also be affected.
3. Data collection
Two basic sources of statistical information are being used in Sweden when discussing violence against women. The first source comprises incidents reported to the police. Different crime codes make it, for instance in respect of assault, possible to identify offences that have been committed by a person acquainted with the woman. The crime report system is continuously being developed and refined and will in a new system - STUK - be based on structured information on crime. The aim of the project is to develop a common and uniform framework to collect and structure information about crimes within the whole judiciary. In 2012 STUK will replace the crime report system used today.
The other source of information when discussing violence against women comes from national surveys. Statistics Sweden has conducted annual surveys of living conditions since 1978. These surveys have included a number of questions relating to crime victimisation, including violence. From the year 2008 the questions concerning violence will be extended so that more detailed information about the circumstances can be derived.
Since 2006 the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention conducts a large-scale victimisation survey each year that also covers violence against women. An advantage of this survey is the possibility to relate victimisation data to offences reported to the police.
However, these data also have their limitations, since they are dependent on the willingness of people to respond to questionnaires or questions from these authorities.
4. Awareness raising
· Measure 24 Virtual youth centre/clinic for sexual and reproductive health. The National Board of Health and Welfare are instructed to provide funding for the development of a virtual youth centre for sexual and reproductive health. The purpose of a virtual youth centre is to strengthen and support young women and men in their personal development by furthering their chances of establishing sound relationships, improving their health situation, and by making available reliable and easily accessible information in areas that they may find sensitive or difficult to discuss in their regular contact with health services. This youth guidance service is to offer advice on sexual and reproductive health matters and on relationships and mental health. A gender equality perspective will pervade all content on the youth centre.
· Measure 51 – Dissemination of knowledge and information concerning issues relating to violence and oppression. The Government intends to strengthen the financing of the NCK at Uppsala University to enable it to disseminate knowledge and information concerning violence and oppression in the name of honour and violence in same-sex relationships.
One of the tasks of the NCK is to disseminate knowledge and information about men’s violence against women, to provide training on this subject, not least to health care staff and other staff categories, to monitor, compile and disseminate research findings and to analyse the need for further research in this area, to conduct research associated with clinical activities, and to act as a source of support for government agencies and organisations on issues relating to men’s violence against women. In 2007 the NCK started a national telephone support line for women who have been subjected to threats and violence. The help line is free of charge and is open 24/7.
· Measure 52 – Establishment of a research programme. The Government intends to establish a research programme encompassing men’s violence against women, violence and oppression in the name of honour and violence in same-sex relationships.
Enclosure to Final report - Indicators
1. Is any and every act of violence against women criminalised in your country ?
In Chapter 3 (on crimes against life and health) and Chapter 4 (on crimes against liberty and peace) in the Swedish Penal Code inter alia murder, assault, gross violation of a woman’s integrity, unlawful coercion and unlawful threat are criminalised and in Chapter 6 (on sexual crimes) inter alia rape and sexual coercion are criminalised.
2. Is violence committed by a partner or former partner punished more severely than violence among strangers (e.g. gender based violence as such or the abuse of power will be considered an aggravating circumstance)?
When assessing the penal value, aggravating circumstances in Chapter 29 section 2 in the Penal Code shall be given special consideration, in addition to what is applicable to each and every type of crime. The following circumstances are the most important and used once when it comes to domestic violence;
- whether the accused manifested especial ruthlessness
- whether the accused exploited some other person’s vulnerable position or that person’s special difficulties in protecting himself or
- whether the crime was devoted to damage the security and trust by a child in its relation to a closely related person.
Furthermore there is, since the special penal provision gross violation of a woman’s integrity entered into force in 1998, a possibility to significantly raise the penalty for systematic violence against women by a partner or former partner.
3. Are victims enabled to seek justice in a human manner (e.g. specialized courts on domestic violence, specialized units within the police, the public prosecutor or the judiciary)?
Within the Swedish Prosecution Authority there are special teams and specialists working with violence in close relationships, including sexual crimes against women and children. Also within the police there are, so called family violence units and specialized competence to handle investigations into this type of crimes.
4. Does national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?
YES (For more detailed information, see the answer in the Final report on the Swedish national Campaign actions, thematic area 4 Awareness raising).
5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your country member state?
There is no available information on the number places in each safe shelter, nation wide, and therefore it is not possible to calculate if Sweden reach the ratio of the Blueprint. However, there is approximately 160 women shelters in Sweden (both NGO-shelters and shelters managed by the municipalities) and about 110 crime victim shelters (managed by NGOs).
Sweden is divided into 290 municipalities, all with their own self-governing local authorities. The municipalities have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that everyone living in their municipality receives the help and support they need. The social welfare committee in each municipality, has a responsibility to consider in particular that women subjected to violence and children who have witnessed violence may need support and assistance.
The number of shelters differs from different municipalities, as does the need for them. If a woman is in need of shelter, it is the obligation of "her" municipality to arrange this. The shelter might be placed within the municipality itself, or in a neighboring/another municipality (sometimes this might be safer, if the woman's municipality is small and the offender also lives there).
6. Is administrative data being collected on victims of domestic violence?
YES (For more detailed information, see the answer in the Final report on the Swedish national Campaign actions, thematic area 3 Data collection.)
7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?
Domestic violence is addressed in the Swedish legal system, however in the Swedish standpoint, a human rights violation is a violation committed by the state and therefore the only time domestic violence becomes a human rights violation is when the state neglects to enact laws to prevent it.