A new report has revealed a large number of young people with foreign backgrounds in Sweden are subject to “honour culture” with many being forced into arranged marriages and are at risk of honour killings.
A total of 240,000 people under 25 years old in Sweden are said to be living under the shadow of a culture that tells them who they can converse with, who they must marry, and how they must behave with sometimes fatal consequences for those who disobey, Afton Bladet reports.
Astrid Schlytter, associate professor at Stockholm University and an expert on the subject, said: “Our assumption is that every third student, girls and boys, who themselves were born abroad or has both parents born abroad live in honour family norms.”
The norms of honour culture can be especially harsh for young girls with their parents forbidding them to have boyfriends, telling them what they can and cannot study in school, and having an arranged marriage often to a man the girl has never met.
Sometimes children living under those conditions speak out and are taken into custody by the Swedish government, but many refuse and stay silent. One 16-year-old told authorities her parents routinely abused her with insults to the point of thoughts of suicide. She said her older sister had been married off against her will, though it was never spoken of in public.
A 14-year-old girl said her parents threatened to kill her if she had sex with a man before marriage. She also said her sister had been violently abused until she accepted the authority of her parents and started wearing an Islamic veil.
Honour killings are relatively rare in Sweden though there have been at least two suspected cases in recent years. In September of 2015, a 52-year-old man in Stockholm’s Årsta suburb stabbed his wife 66 times and cut off her nose and upper lip in what was described as an honour killing.
In September last year, another case of suspected honour killing occurred in Helsingborg where the remains of a woman, who had been set on fire and dumped by the side of the road, were found.
In the UK the number of “honour” crimes has surged in recent years. In the past five years in London alone the rate of honour crimes has increased by 40 per cent. Eighty-five per cent of the crimes involved physical violence and the second largest category was sexual crimes including rape.
Despite the increase, some, including UK Conservative Party politician Nusrat Ghani, have called for the term “honour killing” to be banned. Other reports claim the largest Islamic Sharia court in the UK has purposely sabotaged honour crime-related cases to help the attackers escape justice.