Sub-goal 6: Men's violence against women must end

Men's violence against women can be seen as the ultimate consequence of an unequal society. In addition to the suffering of the victim, the violence also affects relatives and entails great costs for society. It is important to work on violence prevention and detect violence early in order to provide protection and support.

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The sixth sub-goal is for men's violence against women to end. Women and men, girls and boys, shall have the same right and opportunity for bodily integrity.

Men's violence against women is a collective term for the violence that girls and women are subjected to and shows an imbalance of power between the sexes. Knowledge of power and violence and of stereotypical gender norms is therefore fundamental to preventing men's violence. Since 2019, for example, knowledge about men's violence against women and violence in close relationships appear as degree objectives in eight higher education programmes, including law, medicine, sociology and dentistry.

Extent of violence

Men's violence against women includes:

  • all forms of physical, psychological, sexual, economic and digital violence, and threats of violence against girls and women (regardless of the relationship with the perpetrator)
  • violence in close relationships, aimed at girls, women, boys, men and LGBTQI people
  • honour related violence and oppression, including: child marriage, forced marriage and female genital mutilation
  • prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes and sexual exploitation of children
  • commercialisation and exploitation of the female body in advertising, media and pornography.

Who is the perpetrator and who is subjected to it?

Boys and men account for the majority of the violence perpetrated. Violent men exist in all groups in society, but stereotypical norms about masculinity and a negative attitude towards gender equality are risk factors. Young men are overrepresented as both perpetrators and victims of violence.

Girls and young women are the group that is subjected most to crimes committed in close relationships, sexual harassment in school and working life, and sexual crimes in general. There are groups whose living conditions make them particularly vulnerable to violence, such as women with disabilities or substance abuse. Older women's exposure to violence is also often invisible.

Other people at risk of being subjectedto violence are children and young people with mental illness, with neuropsychiatric disabilities, children and young people in social care, and young LGBTQI people. In recent years, unaccompanied children and young people have also received special attention in the group of migrants who are at risk of being victims ofsexual exploitation.

A national strategy

The sixth sub-goal has a ten-year (2017-2026) national strategy for preventing and combating men's violence against women. It includes four objectives:

  • expanded and effective preventive work against violence
  • improved detection of violence and stronger protection for abused women and children
  • more effective law enforcement
  • improved knowledge and method development.

The strategy challenges ideas of power and masculinity that justify violence, the purchase of sexual services, and norms that limit girls' and women's room for manoeuvre and choice of life. It also includes the vulnerability of boys and men as well as girls and women who use violence. Involving boys and men in the work to prevent violence and stop and prevent further violence is of great importance.

The work against prostitution and human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, as well as honour related violence and oppression, are part of the strategy. Honour related violence and oppression are based on patriarchal and heteronormative notions in which the rights of the individual are subordinate to the collective. The individual's sexuality is a matter for the whole family and her actions are considered to affect the whole family's reputation.

Prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes as well as sexual exploitation of children occur in many forms. Girls and women, boys and men are subjected to this crime, but men are the most common perpetrators. Street prostitution has decreased and prostitution happens most commonly via contact on the internet. Websites that market the sale of sex have increased in number and there has been a clear professionalisation of communication. With the growing exposure and availability of digital arenas, the risk of young people being exploited in prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes has increased. So-called sugar dating sites are also said to attract younger people who have not previously sold sex.

Challenges in the field of men's violence against women

In its work, the Swedish Gender Equality Agency has identified a number of areas for development in order to achieve the goal of ending men's violence against women:

  • Design, test and evaluate early violence prevention initiatives that link power, violence and masculinity.
  • Counteract differences in municipalities, regions and other authorities with regard to increased detection of violence, equivalent support, protection and care based on the needs and rights of individuals.
  • Develop the work with implementation and systematic follow-up of knowledge and legislation, as well as new working methods and methods.
  • Develop structured collaboration between relevant authorities and actors.
  • More focus on perpetrators of violence when it comes to preventive work.
  • More effective law enforcement.
  • Heads of authorities must prioritise the area and provide the conditions for qualitative and long-term work.
  • The child rights perspective needs to be strengthened in custody disputes regarding support, care and protection, housing and contact.
  • Measures are needed to highlight particularly vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities, and their need for and right to support and protection.

Men's violence against women

Publication date: 7 January 2022

Last updated: 16 December 2022