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Sweden: Update to SWE27293.E of 16 July 1997 on the protection available to women and children who are victims of domestic violence; availability of restraining orders and shelters; protection offered by criminal and civil courts (1996-2002)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 8 April 2002
Citation / Document Symbol SWE38492.E
Reference 5
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Sweden: Update to SWE27293.E of 16 July 1997 on the protection available to women and children who are victims of domestic violence; availability of restraining orders and shelters; protection offered by criminal and civil courts (1996-2002) , 8 April 2002, SWE38492.E , available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4beaec.html [accessed 23 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Sweden has several organizations that provide services and operate shelters for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Details of four such organizations are provided below.

The National Organization for Women's Shelters and Young Women's Shelters in Sweden (Riksorganisationen för kvinnojourer ich tjejjourer i Sverige, ROKS) was founded in 1984 (ROKS 23 Feb. 2002). ROKS, which coordinates battered women's shelters throughout Sweden, is described as an "independent, non-profit, feminist organization" that works to prevent violence against women (ibid.). For further information on the services provided by this organization please refer to its Website.

The following information was provided during a 28 February 2002 telephone interview with a representative of ROKS.

There are currently some 132 shelters under the direction of ROKS, as well as a number of hotlines. ROKS assists women victims of domestic violence in carrying out legal proceedings. While the organization itself does not file police reports, it assists victims by obtaining the necessary documentation and medical certification required to pursue legal action if the victims chose to do so.

The Swedish National Association of Women's Refuges (Sveriges Kvinnojourers Riksförbund, SKR) is another organization that operates shelters to provide lodging for women and children who have been subjected to domestic violence (SKR 28 Feb. 2002). Formed in 1996, it currently consists of 25 shelters that offer support to abuse victims, paying special attention to the situation of children and other more vulnerable groups such as elderly, disabled and immigrant women (Q Web 26 Mar. 2002).

The National Center for Battered and Raped Women (Rikskvinnocentrum, RKC) provides medical services to women who have been abused (RKC 26 Feb. 2002). Established in 1994 as a joint venture between the Government of Sweden and the County of Uppsala (ibid. 5 July 2001), it also promotes awareness of sexual violence in Sweden (ibid. 26 Feb. 2002).

The Women's Forum (Kvinnoforum) of Sweden, established in 1988, operates a telephone service to respond to questions regarding abuse, provides a network to connect those working in the field at the regional and national levels, and conducts research on the topic of abuse against women (Kvinnoforum 12 Dec. 2001).

The ROKS representative said that Sweden is in the process of passing a law that would give police the authority to detain perpetrators of domestic violence for 30 days (28 Feb. 2002). This would enable victimized women to remain in their homes while carrying out legal proceedings (ibid.). Current laws prevent women from obtaining a restraining order while living in the same residence as the perpetrator unless they are considered at risk of further abuse, in which case the man can be forced to leave, or unless they file for divorce, in which case the man is required to leave immediately (ibid.). The man is then prohibited from contacting the woman for a certain period (ibid.). Attempting to contact her is a criminal offence that carries the penalty of a fine or imprisonment for up to one year (ibid.). The representative stated that although this does occur, this offence is rarely prosecuted, and the police are currently working to rectify this situation.

Under a new law that is expected to pass in July 2003, police would have the authority to issue a temporary restraining order, valid for 24 hours until a further ruling could be made by a prosecutor to extend the restraining order for a period of 30 days or longer if deemed necessary.

The following information on restraining orders in Sweden was provided in correspondence received from a representative of the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet) on 28 February 2002.

In order to obtain a restraining order against a perpetrator of domestic violence, the victim must report the incident to the police. The case is referred to an attorney, who must make a decision within one week. The attorney can issue a restraining order if it is deemed that the victim is at risk of further violence, or if a similar incident has been reported in the past. In practice it is difficult to obtain a restraining order if the victim has not reported previous abuse. Violation of a restraining order can carry the penalty of imprisonment for up to one year, however violators are normally sentenced to one month in prison.

On 1 July 1998 a law was passed that introduced a new criminal offence into the Swedish Penal Code called the "gross violation of a woman's integrity," which made domestic violence a "general indictable crime" (Current Sweden Apr. 2000). This new offence allows for repeated acts of violence over a period of time to be considered when sentencing an offender, which can increase the punishment according the severity and frequency of the acts (ibid.). The law also includes an offence called the "gross violation of integrity" that applies to children and other close relatives (ibid.).

A representative from the RKC indicated during a 26 February 2002 telephone interview that since this new law was passed more perpetrators of violence against women have been sentenced. However, the representative from ROKS stated that although the charge of "gross violation of a woman's integrity" has been used, it is often difficult to establish the occurrence of previous unreported acts of violence, and offences are therefore often prosecuted independently rather than under this law (28 Feb. 2002).

No information on civil court proceedings available to victims of domestic violence could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

For further information on the protection available to women and children victims of domestic violence and measures taken by the Swedish government to combat violence against women please refer to the attached documents.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Brottsförebyggande rådet. 28 February 2002. Correspondence received from representative.

Current Sweden. April 2000. No. 428. Lars Nylén and Gun Heimer. "Sweden's Response to Domestic Violence." [Accessed 26 Feb. 2002]

Kvinnoforum. 12 December 2001. "Kvinnoforum - Women's Forum - Sweden." [Accessed 1 Mar. 2002]

Q Web. 26 March 2002. "The Swedish Association of Women's Shelters/Sveriges Kvinnojourers Riksförbund." [Accessed 29 Mar. 2002]

Rikskvinnocentrum (RKC). 26 February 2002. Telephone interview with representative.

_____. 5 July 2001. "Background." [Accessed 1 Mar. 2002]

Riksorganisationen för kvinnojourer ich tjejjourer i Sverige (ROKS). 28 February 2002. Telephone interview with representative.

_____. 23 February 2002. "ROKS: The National Organization for Women's Shelters and Young Women's Shelters in Sweden." [Accessed 1 Mar. 2002]

Sveriges Kvinnojourers Riksförbund (SKR). 28 February 2002. Telephone interview with representative.

Attachments

Current Sweden. April 2000. No. 428. Lars Nylén and Gun Heimer. "Sweden's Response to Domestic Violence." [Accessed 26 Feb. 2002]

Regeringskansliet. 1999. "Violence Against Women: Government Bill 1997/98:55." [Accessed 29 Mar. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Brottsofferjourernas Riksförbund (Swedish National Association for Victim Support)

Brottsoffermyndigheten (Crime Victim Support and Compensation Agency)

Embassy of Sweden, Ottawa

NEXIS

WNC

Internet sites including:

Swedish Integration Board

Swedish Ministry of Justice

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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