Posted on December 29, 2011

Culturally Enriched Domestic Violence in Oslo

Gates of Vienna, December 28, 2011

Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer sends the following report about the disproportionate increase of domestic violence among the “New Norwegians” in Oslo. Stranger rape is no longer the only crime dominated by the culture enrichers; now domestic violence can be added to the list.

The Observer includes this note:

This article was published a couple of weeks ago, and it deals with the domestic abuse of women in Norway. It turns out that 70 percent of the women thus affected in Oslo have a different ethnic background than that of the majority populace.

When you take the official numbers from the various assault rapes statistics committed in Oslo and then compare them with these latest numbers, things start to become quite obvious.

His translation from Nettavisen:

Ethnics account for 70 percent of family violence in Oslo.

According to domestic violence coordinator Stein Erik Olsen, families with different ethnic backgrounds are over-represented in the domestic violence statistics.

Nettavisen had intended to write an article about the Norwegian Christmas holiday, Christmas dinners, Christmas beer, Christmas Aquavit and Christmas brawls in Norwegian households.

The hypothesis was that the number of incidences of domestic violence would increase when people have time off and when they consume more alcohol.

That’s not the case in Oslo. According to the domestic violence coordinator and assistant police chief Stein Erik Olsen the ‘Norwegian Christmas violence theory’ is simply a myth, on par with the myth that more burglaries are committed during holidays.

“70 percent of domestic violence cases involve families with a different ethnic background. The cultures concerned don’t touch alcohol and they don’t celebrate Christmas.”

And he adds:

“Our experience from Stovner [immigrant suburb of Oslo] is that the number of domestic violence cases declines during Ramadan.”

Olsen doesn’t wish to speculate why that is the case.

On the agenda

Almost ten years has passed since the national police directorate decided to increase its focus on domestic violence. Every police precinct in Norway now has a domestic violence coordinator. What previously used to be treated as domestic disturbances are now being thoroughly investigated with the aim of a possible conviction as the end result.

In 2005 a new domestic violence law was introduced. Paragraph 219 replaced the old guidelines regarding violence and threats, and more severe penalties were introduced for domestic violence.

The aim is not to get a reduction

The number of cases that end up in the Oslo City Court shows that this new emphasis has borne fruit. The number of domestic violence cases reported has increased from 633 in 2008 to 932 as of December 1, 2011.

Numbers from the National Police Directorate show a 168 percent increase in breaches of paragraph 219 in the period between 2007 and 2011.

“Our aim is not to get a reduction in these cases. There are probably more victims out there that need our help. Our aim is to uncover and combat domestic violence. Lower numbers in this instance would tend to indicate that the police are less successful and that we are less active in our work to uncover this type of violence.” The police chief assistant is also the leader of investigations at Stovner Police station. He confirms that more victims of domestic violence are coming forward and contacting the police.

He says that one of the biggest challenges the police are facing when confronted with other cultures is that they have different laws and different views on women than what is the norm in Norway.

“In some of the more extreme cases we get an insight into the amount of control the family have over these women, and how values totally at odds with Norwegian values are applied. But we have also increased our knowledge as a result of these cases, and not all the women affected are willing to tolerate this kind of treatment. But for many it’s extremely hard to contact the police. To report these incidents means having to completely sever ties with people who are their only reference points in a foreign land,” says Olsen.

More trust in the police

In the last couple of years more people have begun to contact the police. Olsen interprets this as a sign that more people are starting to trust the police and that the numbers of unreported cases are declining.

“When these women see that the police are prioritising their cases, and that society doesn’t tolerate it, more victims will come forward and contact the police.”

The spokesperson for the refuge for women in Fredrikstad, Kari Næss Omvik agrees with Olsen’s assertion that the police are beginning to gain more trust in these cases.

“We have a good relationship with the police. Our impression is that they have become more helpful and that they have started to listen more to the victims,” she says.

But even though society rejects domestic violence, it’s still difficult for the victims to comprehend what’s happening to them, and to break free from the spiral of violence.