Nordic countries and violence against women

A new EU review of violence against women has revealed that one in three European women has been assaulted, and one in twenty has been raped, with the Scandinavian countries at the top of the league tables.

47 percent of women in Finland have experienced physical or sexual violence at some time since the age of 15. Only Danish women were found to have experienced more abuse out of the 28 countries studied, YLE.fi reports.

Some 52 percent of the Danish women surveyed said they had been victims of physical or sexual violence – well above the EU average of 33 percent. Meanwhile 37 percent of Danish women indicated they have been subjected to sexual harassment within the last year, and 32 percent said they have been the victims of physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partner.

Milla Aaltonen, from the Finnish League for Human Rights – the country’s representative of the Fundamental Rights Agency, who carried out the research – said that the prevalence of domestic abuse has been known about for a long time. “Nonetheless, these figures are shocking,” she said. “Violence against women is a serious human rights violation. Today’s study confirms that Finland is one of Europe’s most violent places for women,” Aaltonen said.

In Sweden, 81 percent of women said they had been harassed at some point after the age of 15 – compared to the EU average of 55 percent. After Sweden, which had the highest rate, Denmark, France, the Netherland and Finland all saw rates above 70 percent, accordint to the The Local .

Researcher Joanna Goodey told the TT news agency that the proportion of women working outside the home, the country’s alcohol culture, as well as whether women report incidents or not could all impact on the figures.

“In some countries it can be less acceptable to talk about these things,” Goodey said.

Agency head Morten Kjaerum said that the more gender equal countries had seen rapid changes in the relationship between men and women.

“There is a certain stress level created when gender roles change and old patterns are challenged,” Kjaerum said. “I think that’s a factor we should also consider.”