The majority of women in Sweden live in relative equality. The country has a small, homogenous population, and differences between the cities and the rural areas are slight compared to most other countries.
Population: 9.4 million (2011)
Religions: Christianity 74 %, mainly Evangelical-Lutheran, also Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian; Islam (2007)
Life expectancy: Men 79 years, women 83 years (2011)
Literacy rate: Almost 100 %
Income inequality: Gini coefficient 0.23 (2007) *
Ranking on the Transparency International list of Corruption Perceptions in 183 countries: 4 (2011) **
Ranking on the UNDP Human Development Index of 146 countries, taking gender equality into account: 1 (2011) **
Maternal deaths: 5 deaths per 100,000 births
Number of children/woman: 1.67 (2011)
Abortion legislation: Right to abortion up to the end of the 18th week of pregnancy
Law against rape within marriage: Yes
Violence against women in close relationships: On average 17 women are killed each year by their husband, boyfriend, ex-husband or ex-boyfriend.
* Gini coefficient:
An economic metric of inequality in a population, for example in income distribution. The Gini coefficient has a value of between 0 and 1, where 0 implies that the assets of all individuals are exactly the same (total equality) while 1 represents total inequality. The lower the Gini coefficient for income inequality, the greater the equality of distribution of salaries, profits, welfare benefits and other forms of compensation.
In 2011, Transparency International ranked 183 countries according to how widespread corruption was in the country. Position 1 on the list showed the country where corruption was least widespread, position 183 the greatest. Corruption within, for example, the police and justice systems has a marked influence on women’s lives.
Every year, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, measures human development in the world’s countries taking into account health, education and income, in the Human Development Index, HDI. In 2010 a new index was introduced: GII, Gender Inequality Index, which also takes gender equality into account. The countries are ranked from position 1 downwards.
Swedish Institute of International Affairs
CIA World Factbook
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention
Is there legislation in place which explicitly states that acts of violence committed against women by someone close to them which take place in private are against the law, and which imposes appropriate punishment on the perpetrator?
Assault is a matter for public prosecution.
Since 1998, the law has included the crime of violation of a woman’s integrity, which makes it possible to prosecute a number of less serious crimes, which do not need to be specified by time or place. The intention is that even though the individual acts of violence may be minor, when taken together they constitute a serious violation of integrity.
Is there a functioning, non-corrupt police force and judiciary which can pass sentence and enforce punishment within a reasonable period of time?
The police and the judiciary are efficient and police officers all over Sweden have received training in how to investigate violence in close relationships and also in how to make risk assessments.
The victim of the crime can ask to be represented by a lawyer, known as a plaintiff’s lawyer.
In practice, it has not been easy to make the laws work as intended. Around one in four reported assaults leads to prosecution. When there are no injuries or witnesses, the prosecutor generally chooses to close the case.
Are there accessible and reliable statistics for the incidence of violence against women?
The statistics for crimes of violence are reported by the authorities on an ongoing basis.
There are no recorded figures for the number of women who have been killed by their husband or ex-husband. It is only now – in 2012 – that the authorities are going to begin collecting information about such deaths.
Is it possible for women to support themselves and their children, for example after divorce?
The majority of women in Sweden support themselves.
Are there shelters for women who want to leave a violent relationship?
There are women’s shelters.
Not all the Swedish municipalities contribute financially to the running of the shelters, which rely mainly on voluntary work.
Has the government explicitly expressed the will to fight the violence by means of public debate and various forms of preventive work, for example in the schools, the legal system and the healthcare system?
The will is there, at Government level. The European Women’s Lobby named Sweden as the best country in Europe when it comes to combating violence against women.
Are there any programmes to prevent the abuser from relapsing into violence?
The Prison and Probation Service runs programmes for men who have been convicted and who have expressed the will and the motivation to deal with their violent behaviour.
Treatment programmes within the health care system are available in several places. The men can be referred by the social services or they can seek help voluntarily.
Does society take the view that women are subordinate to men?
In the last century women have achieved equality with men in all areas.
To some extent, traditional gender roles live on. For example, women earn slightly less than men and take the main responsibility for the home and the children.
Which direction is the fight to end the violence against women going in?
The work to combat violence against women has not stopped. In addition to beginning to count the fatalities, greater protection of children who have witnessed violence in the home is planned.