This is how women's shelters work to reach Sami women

Women's and girls' shelters in Norrbotten learned that Sami women do not contact social services, the police or a women's shelter when they are exposed to violence in intimate relationships. Work is now underway to reach Sami women and girls with information that they can seek support and protection on call if they are exposed to violence.

–We wanted to gain more knowledge about the situation of Sami women, and arranged an educational weekend in Kiruna for the women's shelters in the county association in autumn 2018. There we received information from researchers and Sami women about men's violence against women in Sami society. Based on the training, a working group was formed to work further with the issue, says Mildred Hedberg and Eva Engman from the Women's and Girls' Emergency Services in Norrbotten Länsföreningen.

The purpose of the work that is now underway is to reach Sami women and girls with information about the work of the women's and girls' emergency services, and to tell them that they can seek support and protection at an emergency service if they are exposed to violence.

–We also want to get in touch and cooperate with Sami organizations for information about the work of emergency workers and about men's violence against women. In addition, members of the women's and girls' emergency services must gain increased knowledge and understanding of Sami culture and the situation of Sami women and girls and their vulnerability to violence.

An important part of the work is being educated in Sami culture. The pandemic in 2020 and 2021 has caused the work to be delayed. This autumn, an educational weekend is planned for the women's shelters in the association, with the theme "Girls' and women's life in Sami society - meetings, support and cooperation". Monica Burman, professor of jurisprudence at Umeå University, will participate and talk about her survey of research on men's violence against women in Sami society. There will also be participation from the women's association Niejda.

What success factors have you seen?

–An important success factor is that we in the women's shelters and girls' shelters have gained knowledge about Sami culture and the situation of Sami women.

What challenges have you encountered?

–One challenge is to enter Sami society. There is great reluctance to contact authorities and women's shelters outside the Sami community. Violence in intimate partner relationships is usually resolved within the family. Our contact work has therefore taken a lot of time. For example, it is difficult to make contacts with the Sami Parliament. However, we see an improvement in contacts with Sami women, as we have now received positive feedback from the women's association Niejda in Jokkmokk.

Have you had any collaboration with other actors?

–An important cooperation partner is the County Administrative Board in Norrbotten. Together, we have, among other things, carried out a training day in 2019 about Sami women's situation and vulnerability to men's violence. We will visit the County Administrative Board's department for Sami issues in Jokkmokk. We will also meet with Jokkmokk municipality, which is positive about starting a women's shelter in Jokkmokk, where many Sami people live.


Norrbotten’s county association Women's and girls' emergency rooms is a contact link between six member emergency rooms in Norrbotten. The emergency services provide support and protection to girls, women and children who are exposed to men's and boys' violence.

The Istanbul Convention and GREVIO's recommendations to Sweden:

Support and protection

By ratifying the Istanbul Convention, Sweden has undertaken to provide support and assistance to all girls and women who are exposed to violence and to prevent, prosecute and abolish all forms of men's violence against women. The provisions under the third pillar of the convention deal with the rights of girls and women exposed to violence, which must always come first. Support and help must be based on knowledge of the mechanisms, expression and consequences of violence.

The recommendations to Sweden are about ensuring that women and children exposed to violence, regardless of life situation and circumstances, get access to specialised and adequate support and protection, throughout the country.

In order to better live up to the convention, GREVIO urges Sweden to, among other things:

Ensure that all regulations are implemented without discrimination

In order to ensure support for girls and women in particularly vulnerable situations, the authorities must deal with prejudice, ignorance and lack of accessibility. Special knowledge and awareness is needed within local and regional authorities and social services, about factors that can affect the situation of indigenous peoples and national minorities; Sami and Roma girls and women; girls and women with disabilities; in abuse or dependence; who are exploited in prostitution and human trafficking; or who are newly arrived or born abroad.

Increase capacity and quality of sheltered accommodation

Authorities at all levels must ensure access to sheltered housing, without discrimination.

Men's violence against women

Publication date: 28 July 2022

Last updated: 25 November 2022