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Tackling men's violence in families

Tackling men's violence in families: Nordic issues and dilemmas

Maria Eriksson
Marianne Hester
Suvi Keskinen
Keith Pringle
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  • Book Info
    Tackling men's violence in families
    Book Description:

    Nordic countries are generally regarded as global welfare role models in terms of their image of being gender equal, child-friendly and culturally tolerant. Consequently, the influence of Nordic welfare systems in transnational academic and policy debates has been immense. By focusing on the vital welfare issue of violence by men to female partners and/or their children, this book seeks to reconsider this over-simplistic image. Drawing on new research from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, the book critically examines how men's violence in families is perceived and responded to in the Nordic context. It pays particular attention to the links between violence to women and violence to children, children's perspectives, professional discourses and responses, and legal and policy approaches. With clear links between research, policy and practice, the book is highly relevant to a wide audience, including academics, researchers and students in the fields of social work, health, criminology, sociology, social policy, gender studies, European studies and law. It is also recommended reading for welfare managers, practitioners, and policy makers.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-129-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. List of tables and figures
    (pp. iv-iv)
  2. ONE Introduction: Nordic issues and dilemmas
    (pp. 1-12)
    Maria Eriksson and Keith Pringle

    The Nordic countries¹ are characterised by, and internationally famous for, strongly pronounced ideologies of gender equality and child-centredness anchored in legislation and other sources of public norms². They are welfare states where women especially have a relatively strong position in the public sphere. The consensus-oriented Nordic research on gender equality and gender politics has led to substantial improvements within many sectors of these societies. This positive development is, however, not as evident in the area of gender and violence, for example regarding violence and rape against women and girls in intimate relationships. It is clear that a context with strong...

  3. TWO Children, abuse and parental contact in Denmark
    (pp. 13-30)
    Marianne Hester

    Since the 1980s, there has been a growing emphasis on the involvement of both biological parents in the care of their children post-separation and divorce in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand (see also Chapters Three, Five, Seven and Eight in this volume). This reflects article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, concerning children’s right to know their two parents. The emphasis on involvement of both biological parents has involved shifts in family law to include a variety of joint parenting arrangements, for instance in the form of joint custody² (in Denmark – 1985Myndighedslov...

  4. THREE Commitments and contradictions: linking violence, parenthood and professionalism
    (pp. 31-48)
    Suvi Keskinen

    Whereas in most Western and North European countries the discussion of wife abuse was brought to the public agenda by the feminist movement, the Finnish history of dealing with this question has been different. The feminist movement has been relatively weak in Finland, and the issue discursively constructed in gender-neutral and family-centred terms. A social service-like approach has been characteristic of the Finnish shelters. During the past decade, a view of wife abuse as a gendered phenomenon has received growing attention. The discursive shift has many connections with social and healthcare bureaucracy and professional services. This background has led to...

  5. FOUR “Talking feels like you wouldn’t love Dad anymore”: children’s emotions, close relations and domestic violence
    (pp. 49-66)
    Hannele Forsberg

    Children’s emotions – as described by children themselves – have not been very widely portrayed in social scientific research on family and close relationships in general, or in literature on violence in familial relationships or child abuse in particular. This chapter attempts to capture the way children exposed to violence in their own homes construct emotions related to familial relationships, especially the emotions connected to the violent father. I am interested in how and with what words children speak of their emotions during the process of recovering from violence, in situations where children’s workers at shelters, specialised in helping children exposed to...

  6. FIVE Bypassing the relationship between fatherhood and violence in Finnish policy and research
    (pp. 67-82)
    Teija Hautanen

    This chapter has its origin in the question as to why fatherhood and violence in intimate relationships are, in Finland, so seldom treated simultaneously within the same context¹. My aim is to reflect upon this theme on the basis of literature and to accumulate the reasons for this silence in the Finnish discussion. I will begin by examining the Finnish research on violence in intimate relationships. What features can be found there that make it difficult to notice the fatherhood of violent men? Second, I will focus on motherhood and fatherhood – which features in the conception of these two phenomena...

  7. SIX Marching on the spot? Dealing with violence against women in Norway
    (pp. 83-100)
    Wenche Jonassen

    Little has been done to create new measures for victims of violence or to improve the quality of existing public agencies in Norway. The problems of women exposed to violence seem to be more or less left to be solved by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through shelters for battered women. Violence against women has been politically acknowledged as a serious social problem for more than two decades. Despite this, there is a long way to go before one can say that services for battered women are satisfactory. What kinds of measures have been taken to tackle the problem during this time?...

  8. SEVEN Children’s peace? The possibility of protecting children by means of criminal law and family law
    (pp. 101-118)
    Gudrun Nordborg

    This poem was written by Karolina Kraft (Kraft, 2000, p 21). The forbidden happened to her. The forbidden also happened to her as a mother and thus violence has also affected her children. Many brave testimonies have contributed to the fact that violence, which before was totally private, has been highlighted to such an extent that it has become a public, political issue in Sweden, resulting in a series of reforms aimed at curtailing violence by men towards women and children. But this violence has recently been forbidden! At the same time, a father’s right to have access to his...

  9. EIGHT A visible or invisible child? Professionals’ approaches to children whose father is violent towards their mother
    (pp. 119-136)
    Maria Eriksson

    This chapter points out some of the contradictions and dilemmas associated with current Swedish attempts to create gender equality – including shared parenting and a ‘new father’ – and attempts to promote children’s interests. In legal cases concerning custody, contact or residence in Sweden, a particular group of social workers, the so-called family law secretaries (word-for-word translation), conduct the investigations that form part of the basis for the court’s decision. Furthermore, the family law secretaries also lead cooperation talks – that is, mediation – with separated parents who want to settle conflicts involving children. The practices of this group of professionals are crucial for...

  10. NINE “Take my father away from home”: children growing up in the proximity of violence
    (pp. 137-154)
    Katarina Weinehall

    In this chapter, my focus is young people’s narratives of growing up in the proximity of violence. The discussion draws on my research into experiences of violence in families, which constituted the first major research project on men’s violence against women and children’s experiences and perspectives of violence in Sweden (Weinehall, 1997).

    Sweden is generally perceived as a country where principles of gender equality and justice are prevailing and Swedes also like to think that. Sweden is a leading country with regard to these issues. Nonetheless, national studies show that violence in intimate relationships in Sweden is extensive (see Lundgren...

  11. TEN Neglected issues in Swedish child protection policy and practice: age, ethnicity and gender
    (pp. 155-172)
    Keith Pringle

    The creation of the welfare state in Sweden as an idea (in the 1930s/1940s) and then as practice since the 1950s has undoubtedly been a huge achievement. It is remarkable that a country with a relatively small population and only recent industrialisation could create one of the most comprehensive welfare systems in the world. However, Sweden’s welfare system is not, and never was, paradise (Pringle, 1998). In this chapter, I will draw on a recent study of children’s welfare in Sweden (Pringle, 2002) to suggest that the Swedish system, and the society that contextualises it, is permeated by discriminatory power...

  12. ELEVEN Tackling men’s violence in families: lessons for the UK
    (pp. 173-182)
    Marianne Hester

    This book set out to examine Nordic approaches to tackling men’s violence in families, by studying policies, practices and issues arising from the contexts of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The previous chapters have engaged in a variety of ways with these issues, looking in particular at parenting in the context of men’s violence, children’s perspectives on living with domestic abuse, professionals’ responses and the responses and discourses of policy makers. The book began with a caution regarding the nature of the Nordic welfare systems. While these systems may be seen as successful when compared with those of other countries...