Review of Sweden’s action to combat violence against women and domestic violence

The Council of Europe has published its first review of how Sweden is fulfilling its commitments under the organisation’s convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention). The Convention, to which Sweden acceded in 2014, is the most comprehensive and detailed instrument for human rights in this area.

In September 2017, the Government submitted a report on Swedish conditions and initiatives to comply with the Istanbul Convention to the Council of Europe’s expert group GREVIO. In February 2018, GREVIO held a dialogue on this work with a Swedish delegation in Strasbourg and, the following month, GREVIO visited Sweden for meetings with representatives of the Government, public authorities, municipalities, county councils and civil society. On Friday 25 January 2019, the Council of Europe adopted GREVIO’s recommendations to Sweden.

A fundamental challenge for gender equality

The Istanbul Convention concerns measures against all forms of violence against women and girls, including honour-related violence and oppression. It also aims to combat all forms of domestic violence, including against children.

In its review report, GREVIO appreciates that Sweden considers violence against women to be a fundamental challenge for gender equality and holds Sweden up as a leading country in gender equality policy. In particular, GREVIO highlights the Violence against Women Reform of 1998, the introduction of the gross violation of a woman’s integrity as an offence and the new consent-based sexual offences legislation of 2018. Furthermore, GREVIO praises Sweden for its work on an evidence-based approach to the areas covered by the Convention.

Recommendations from GREVIO

GREVIO also makes a total of 41 recommendations to Sweden. Eight of these recommendations are particularly strong, which is to say that, according to GREVIO, Sweden should immediately remedy these shortcomings. Sweden has also submitted explanatory comments to GREVIO’s report which are published separately on the Council of Europe website. By January 2022 at the latest, the Government is expected to deliver a report on how the Council of Europe’s recommendations on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention have been managed in Sweden.

Sweden and the Instanbul Convention

Within the Government Offices, work on the Istanbul Convention is coordinated by the Division for Gender Equality. GREVIO’s report and Sweden’s comments will be shared with the Riksdag and translated into Swedish. They will be sent to all relevant actors in Sweden. In the spring of 2019, a special meeting is planned on GREVIO’s recommendations, Sweden’s work on the Istanbul Convention and other matters.