Thursday, October 11, 2018

Feminicide across Europe: Sweden


The term of femicide is not widely employed in Sweden. Swedish research on the matter is scarce, and the most common terms found are ‘deadly violence’, ‘deadly intimate partner violence against women’ and the gender-neutral ‘deadly intimate partner violence’ (Nybergh 2016), which is also often used by government agencies (e.g. Brå 2007, Socialstyrelsen 2016).

1 Sources The main body that collects data on violent crime (including the murder of women and men) is The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå), an agency under the Ministry of Justice, established in 1974. Brå is a centre for research and development within the judicial system, working primarily to reduce crime and improve levels of safety in society by producing data and disseminating knowledge on crime and crime prevention work. Brå produces Sweden’s official crime statistics, evaluates reforms, conducts research to develop new knowledge and provides support to local crime prevention work. The results of Brå’s work form a basis for decision makers within the judicial system, Parliament and the Government. Brå often works in collaboration with other organisations and public sector agencies. It collects data on reported crime from the police, costume, prosecutor and the courts. Other sources include Statistics Sweden (SCB), but the SCB statistics themselves draw on Brå’s data.
Another, more qualitative, source is The National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), a government agency under the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. The agency is required by law to conduct special investigations in cases where the cause of death is related to ‘a crime conducted by a close, or formerly close person’ (Socialstyrelsen 2016, p. 10). The aim of the investigations is to provide information that could be used in developing prevention measures in matters of intimate partner or family violence, as well as to enable long-term knowledge production. The National Board of Health and Welfare has been critical of their own investigations and argued that it is impossible to draw any general conclusions, or make any systematic analyses, due the sample being too small, and too narrowly defined, and the fact that the Board is not permitted to obtain information about perpetrators.
2 Definition
Crime statistics and law refer to ‘deadly violence’, which includes murder, manslaughter, childslaughter and assault with deadly outcome (these are literal translations from Brå), collectively termed ‘deadly violence’ (Brå 2016a). Common terms used by government agencies are ‘deadly intimate partner violence against women’ and ‘deadly intimate partner violence’ (e.g. Brå 2007, Socialstyrelsen 2016), which primarily refers the murder of a woman by an intimate partner. An intimate partner is commonly defined as: current or former husband, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend or lover, regardless of currently or previously having lived together.
 (by Lucas Gottzén and Sofia Strid)

In order to fight feminicide/femicide, various Latin American and European countries have adopted increasingly specific laws and legal instruments that penalize feminicide. The ratification of the Belém do Pará Convention1 in Latin America and the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention2  in Europe, demonstrate an increasingly stronger international commitment against this kind of violence. The establishment of the Bi-regional Dialogue on Gender by the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as the adoption of the Urgent Resolution on Feminicide in the European Union and Latin America3 by the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat) also express this commitment. 

However, legal norms, agreements, and international dialogues alone are not sufficient for the eradication of violence against women, nor its most extreme manifestation, feminicide.

Traditionally, States were only responsible for their own actions or those of their agents, but international public law has evolved and currently, the principle of due diligence makes the State responsible for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of violence, regardless of who commits the crime. The duty of due diligence obliges States to enter the private sphere, where historically, they have not intervened, but where the majority of cases of violence against women occur.

Therefore, it is the duty of the State to take all necessary measures to prevent human rights violations, such as feminicide, before they occur. This means, on the one hand, adopting pertinent laws and policies to prevent, investigate, prosecute, and punish those guilty of abuse, and on the other hand, successfully implement them.

Patricia Jiménez, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung – European Union, Brussels

Brå (2007) Utvecklingen av dödligt våld mot kvinnor i nära relationer. Stockholm: The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. Available at: gen_dodligt_vald_mot_kvinnor.pdf [2016-10-12].
Brå (2016b) Mord och dråp. Available at: [2016-10-12].
Brå (2016b) Fakta om våld i nära relationer. Available at: [2016-10-12].
Nybergh, L. (2016) Dödligt våld i nära relationer – en genomgång av internationell forskning. Göteborg: Västra Götalandsregionen. Available at:åld%20i%20nä  [2016-1012].

Socialstyrelsen (2016) Dödsfallsutredningar 2014-2015: Barn och vuxna som avlidit med anledning av brott. Stockholm: The National Board of Health and Welfare. Available at:   [2016-1012].

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