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Is enough being done to prevent violence in close relationships?

New suspect arrested in Landskrona honour killing investigation

Published torsdag 26 april 2012 kl 00.06
"A big failure"
(4:05 min)

After a young Landskrona woman was stabbed to death Monday in what is suspected of being an honour-related killing, organisations are questioning whether enough was done to protect the 19-year-old.

On Monday a 19-year-old Landskrona woman was found stabbed to death in her apartment. Police are holding a 16-year-old boy, a relative of the victim's arrested near the scene of the crime, on suspicion of murder.

A 39-year-old woman is also suspected of being invovled. She was taken into custody on Wednesday night on suspicion of murder and instigation to murder.

Now the government and organisations working with domestic violence are questioning whether the municipality did enough to protect her.

Mikael Högberg, a therapist with Tänk Om, an NGO working with honor-related crime, says the woman was in touch with the organisation this past summer due to a growing threat she was experiencing after she left a forced marriage abroad and returned to Sweden.

Högberg told TT news agency she was afraid and slept with a knife under her pillow. He said Tänk Om urged social services in Landskrona to help the 19-year-old find protective housing in another municipality to no avail.

Now the local board of health and welfare and the county council are reviewing the municipality's work to support women at risk.

Annette Lindberg Mohlin with family services in Landskrona says they want an independent evaluation of their work. While she wouldn't comment on this case, she said that sometimes officials are confronted with the problem of women declining help because they are torn between two worlds: family and friends or living a safe life.

"Generally, if there is a threat and a need for protective housing, no one is denied that in Landskrona," Mohlin told Swedish Radio.

An average of 17 women are murdered each year in Sweden by someone they are close to. According to police, honour-related crimes are committed to protect or restore a family's honour, which is often tied to the woman's sexuality and men's control over it. Frequently, the motive is that a girl has violated the norms requiring her to enter an arranged marriage.

Police have not yet classified the murder as honour-related, but lawyer Elisabeth Massi Fritz, who specializes in honour crimes, told TT that everything about it indicates it was honour-related, in which case the 16-year-old held on suspicion of murder would not have been acting alone.

Justice Minister Beatrice Ask acknowledged in a press conference today that the murder had the hallmarks of an honour killing and signals that were ignored.

"This is totally unacceptable and a big failure for society. How can we become more effective, more alert and do the right things? Time and again we are reminded by examples of our failure, or that the authorities have reacted but not strongly enough," Ask said.

Ask announced that the Government has allocated 3 million US dollars to combat violence in close relationships and appointed Carin Götblad, head of the Stockholm County Police, to coordinate the work of various state agencies and volunteer organisations and review legislation.

"There are many different actors working at different levels against this type of crime. How it's addressed is very uneven. We want to coordinate it," Ask said.

But organisations working with violence in close relationships criticize the Government for a lack of concrete measures. Angela Beausang, chairman of Roks, the National Organisation for Women's and Young Women's Shelters in Sweden, says the measures will take too long to achieve results.

"If you give a national coordinator an assignment, hopefully you will see some results in a few years. I would like to see some measures that will yield results right now. There are no apartments, for example. Women and children should have a reasonable amount of support when they come to these organisations for help," Beausang told Swedish Radio News.

Police interrogated the 16-year-old held on suspicion of murdering the 19-year-old Wednesday. The boy's defense lawyer Urban Jansson said his client denies committing the killing. On Friday at the latest the prosecutor will decide on whether the boy will be held in remand.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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