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, violence also affects those close to them and entails significant costs for society. It is important to work on violence prevention and detect violence early to provide protection and support.

Child looks worried at father who looks angry.

The sixth goal is to end men's violence against women. Women and men, girls and boys, should have the same right and opportunity to bodily integrity. Men's violence against women is therefore a matter of gender equality.

Men's violence against women is a collective term for the violence experienced by girls and women, indicating a power imbalance between the genders. Knowledge about power and violence, as well as stereotypical gender norms, is therefore essential to prevent and combat men's violence.

In 2018, knowledge about men's violence against women and violence in close relationships was introduced in the Higher Education Ordinance and is now included as a learning objective in eight higher education programs, including law, medicine, social work, and dentistry.

Extent of violence

The scope of 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 of violence and who is subjected to it?

Men and boys account for the majority of the violence committed. Regardless of whether a woman or man is subjected to violence, the perpetrator is often a man. However, the experience of exposure differs between women and men. Women are more often subjected to violence at home or by a partner or former partner, while men are more often subjected to violence in public places and by someone they do not know or an acquaintance.

Men who commit violence can be found in all groups of society. Examples of risk factors include stereotypical norms of masculinity and a negative attitude towards gender equality. Young men are overrepresented, both as perpetrators of violence and as victims.

 

Regardless of whether a woman or man is subjected to violence, the perpetrator is often a man.

Girls and young women are the group most exposed to crimes committed in intimate relationships. Girls and young women are also the most exposed to sexual harassment in school, sexual harassment in the workplace, and to sexual offences in general. There are life situations and living conditions that can complicate the individual woman's or girl's exposure to violence. Examples of such life situations include women with disabilities and women living in substance abuse. Elderly women's exposure to violence is rarely addressed.

Other groups at risk of experiencing violence include children and young people living with mental health problems or with a neurodevelopmental disorder. This also applies to children and young people in social care, and young LGBTQIA+ individuals. In recent years, it has also been noted that groups at risk of being exploited for sexual exploitation are unaccompanied children and young people.

A national strategy

The work on the sixth sub-goal is carried out in accordance with a ten-year (2017-2026) national strategy. The national strategy to prevent and combat men's violence against women particularly emphasises preventive efforts. The strategy has four objectives:

  1. Expanded and effective preventive work against violence.
  2. Improved detection of violence and stronger protection for women and children subjected to violence.
  3. More effective law enforcement.
  4. Enhanced knowledge and method development.

The strategy challenges ideas about power and masculinity that justify violence and the purchase of sexual services. It challenges norms that limit girls' and women's agency and life choices. The strategy also includes the vulnerability of boys and men, as well as girls and women who perpetrate violence. It highlights the importance of engaging boys and men in efforts to prevent violence and to stop and prevent ongoing violence.

Honour-related violence and oppression

The national strategy includes work against prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation of children, and honour-related violence and oppression.

Honour-related violence and oppression are based on patriarchal and heteronormative beliefs where individual rights are subordinate to the collective. According to this perspective, an individual's sexuality is a matter for the entire family, and their actions are believed to affect the reputation of the entire family.

There is a lack of current national surveys regarding the extent of honor-based violence. In a 2019 survey conducted in the country's three largest cities, it was estimated that 7-9 percent of the youth in the study live with honor norms associated with violence, and between 10-20 percent live with norms related to chastity.

According to an estimate by the National Board of Health and Welfare, 68,000 girls and women may have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).

Prostitution and human trafficking

Prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes, as well as sexual exploitation of children, occur in various forms. Both girls and women, boys and men are subjected to this crime. The perpetrators are usually men.

Today, street prostitution has decreased. The most common way to make contact is through the internet. Websites advertising the sale of sexual services have increased in number. Many websites have significantly professionalized their way of communication. With the increasing exposure and availability on digital platforms, the risk of young people being exploited and used in prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes also increases. So-called sugar dating sites also attract younger individuals who have not previously experienced prostitution.

Need for increased knowledge, methods, and support

In several areas, including prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation of children, honour-related violence and oppression, and female genital mutilation, there is a lack of knowledge and methods to detect individuals who have been subjected to violence. The availability of specialised support is also unevenly distributed across the country. This means that those subjected to violence, as well as those perpetrating violence against others, risk not being offered appropriate support and treatment. There is also a lack of coordination and follow-up among authorities at several levels.

Challenges in the field of men's violence against women

At the Swedish Gender Equality Agency, we have identified several areas for development to achieve Sweden's goal of ending men's violence against women. According to us, it is important to:

  • Develop structured collaboration between relevant authorities and stakeholders.
  • Place more emphasis on preventive work towards perpetrators of violence.
  • Combat crime more effectively.
  • Prioritise the area and create conditions for qualitative and long-term work within each respective organisation.
  • Strengthen the perspective of children's rights in disputes regarding custody, residence, and visitation. Children should always receive the protection and support they are entitled to.
  • Highlight vulnerable groups in particularly vulnerable situations, such as victims of violence with disabilities, and their need for and right to support and protection.

Men's violence against women

Publication date: 7 January 2022

Last updated: 21 March 2024