Mishra’s Mishmash: Scandinavia’s image as the best place to be women takes a beating

There’s nothing blurry about this stark truth (photo: Pixabay)
June 5th, 2021 5:00 pm| by Mrutyuanjai Mishra
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Recently, six women were killed in the span of just five weeks in Sweden, tarnishing the age-old image of Scandinavia as the safest place for women in the world and a haven for feminism and gender equality. This news spread far and wide. 

Rape rates soaring
Women aren’t just murdered in Sweden. Rape and attempted rape, particularly against young teenage girls, is on the rise and has been since 2015, the same year that Sweden experienced a surge in refugees from Syria and other countries in the Middle East. 

The rape rate, which unlike the attempted rape rate is documented, rose by a double-digit percentage in 2016 compared to previous years.

The Swedish media are often known for their impartiality and political correctness, yet three years ago ‘Uppdrag Granskning’, a current affairs program broadcast by the state operator SVT, revealed that 58 percent of all men tried in Swedish courts for rape were born abroad. 

Some 40 percent of these men were born in the Middle East or Africa, with Afghanistan leading the way, and in the overwhelming majority of cases (97 out of 129) the victims had no connection whatsoever with the perpetrator. 

General complicity
Gang rape is on the rise and, unfortunately, in such cases the police have a hard time bringing the culprits to justice because the majority of the crimes are committed in areas where citizens do not dare bear witness. 

The recent figures from Sweden confirm the problem. In 2020, there were 16,461 cases of violence against women – a 15.4 percent rise compared to 2019, in which there were 14,261 cases, according to the country’s National Council for Crime Prevention. 

While Scandinavian countries have been busy reporting and focusing on crimes against women in other countries, the situation has worsened in their own backyard. 

Denmark and Norway, too, have experienced the same tendencies, but not on the scale measured in Sweden. 

Danmarks Statistik, which collects data on all socially-relevant issues, confirms that persons with Lebanese background are over-represented in criminal statistics in Denmark. 

Ministry’s watchlist
Mattias Tesfaye, the integration and immigration minister, is well aware of the statistics that reveal which nationalities are over-represented in prison. Therefore, he has asked for critical vigilance regarding 24 countries – all of which are outside Europe.

All this has resulted in a general debate concerning Swedish and Danish values and the impact of values imported from abroad. All of a sudden, Scandinavian countries, which boast a generous welfare state and decent level of gender equality, have seen a surge in gender violence and crimes against women.

Even though the immigration rules have been tightened and citizenship laws toughened up, there has been no significant decrease in crimes against women at present.  It is probably time for the Scandinavian countries to get realistic and see, once and for all, that before they try to fix the problems of other countries, they should set their own houses in order. 

It should be mentioned, however, that women who die because of domestic violence tend to know their killers. And in this category, Scandinavian men, too, are well represented.

Mrutyuanjai Mishra


As a regular contributor to the Times of India, the country’s largest newspaper, Mishra is often sought-after by Danish media and academia to provide expertise on Asian-related matters, human rights issues and democratisation. He has spent half his life in India and the other half in Denmark and Sweden. 

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