Education about ‘men’s violence against women’ is to become a compulsory component of a range of university courses as part of Sweden’s national strategy for gender equality.
As part of the state-directed changes to higher education, students from a range of disciplines will be meeting with abused women and children during the course of their studies, the government announced on Friday.
“Knowledge of violence in certain occupations may be crucial to saving lives,” said equalities minister Åsa Regnér in a statement which outlines the goal of the curriculum changes as teaching students how to detect and prevent violence.
“Students will have mandatory training on the topic of male violence in intimate relationships, where they will meet both aggressors and victims of violence.
“This is a basic measure that should have been in place for decades. Anyone who has studied these issues understands that, by bringing in these changes, the government is making history,” said the minister.
Swedes studying in the areas of law, medicine, dentistry, psychology, physiotherapy, nursing, and social work will have to complete courses and training in “men’s violence against women” under the policy.
While the government’s strategy is explicitly gender-based, stating that it sets out to “combat violence against women”, studies carried out both in the wider West and in Sweden show that women are more likely to initiate domestic violence.
In 2013, a study by the University of Gothenburg found that a larger proportion of men than women had been exposed to domestic violence in their relationships.
Sweden prides itself on having the world’s “first feminist government”, its website explaining: “This means that gender equality is central to the Government’s priorities – in decision-making and resource allocation.”
Earlier this month, Environment Minister Karolina Skog said reducing the number of cars on the road is a feminist issue as well as a matter of meeting carbon emissions targets, arguing that male drivers occupy space in Swedish cities “at the expense of women”.