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CONFERENCE FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE PROGRAMME “DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND GENDER BASED VIOLENCE” Under the EEA Financial Mechanism 15 th November 2013 Sofia. CONFRONTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN NORWAY. Rachel Eapen Paul Senior Adviser, Office of the Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud , Norway.

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confronting domestic violence in norway



Rachel Eapen Paul

Senior Adviser, Office of the Equality and Anti-discrimination Ombud,



1. Introduction

ComprehendingDV, itsextent and context

DomesticViolencein an internationalcontext

Impactand Consequences




2. ConfrontingDomesticViolence in Norway

3. Challenges and theway forward


comprehending domestic violence and gender based violence
Comprehendingdomesticviolence and genderbasedviolence
  • Gender based violence is any form of violence a person is subject to due to their gender
  • most of these forms of violence are against women
  • also men can be subject to GBV
  • Many terms:

- Violence against women

- Violence in intimate relationships

- Domestic violence


Violence against women – gender based violence against women - is a huge human rights violation

  • hundreds of thousands of mostly women and girls all over the world are subject to domestic violence.
  • Men and boys can also be victims of DV, but the vast majority of victims globally are women and the great majority of perpetrators are men and boys

The then Norwegian Minister for Children, Equality and Social Inclusion said in her Statement at the UN CSW in early March this year:

Violence against women is a global disgrace – that persists regardless of national boundaries, regardless of ethnicity and regardless of wealth.

VAW is the leading cause of deaths and disabilities among women of all ages, causing more deaths among young women than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined!


Domestic violence is generally seen as a form of violence against women

  • Here too men can be victims of domestic violence

The Beijing Platform for Action further says:

Violence against women encompasses but is not limited to the following:

  • Physical,sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of girl children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, forced marriage (domestic violence)

An issue concerning gender equality

  • The UN Beijing Platform for Action for Equality, development and Peace, 1995 states:
  • “Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace”
  • VAW is one of the greatest hindrances to achieving gender equality

The United Nations defines violence against women:

"any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.


The EU Definition:

The European Union defines ‘violence against women’ as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.

Probably domestic violence is the most common form of violence against women and is a high priority for the EU.


Victims suffer from

- Isolation

- Loss of self confidence

- Taking on the blame and the shame

- Inability to work

- Loss of wages

- Lack of participation in regular activities

- Limited ability to care for themselves and their children


From the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Fact Sheet No. 239, 2012

A WHO multi-country study found that

between 15–71% of women aged 15- 49years reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner (DV) at some point in their lives.

extent contd

From a European survey on people’s awareness of domestic violence:

SPECIAL EUROBAROMETER 344 “Domestic Violence Against Women”

One respondent in four – 25% - across the EU knows a woman among friends or in the family circle who is a victim of domestic violence.

extent eurobarometer contd
Extent - Eurobarometer contd.
  • 34% of respondents say they know a victim of domestic violence in their neighbourhood
  • 31% of respondents say that they know a perpetrator of domestic violence in their neighbourhood
international commitments and monitoring mechanisms
International Commitments and Monitoring mechanisms

Europe and the EU:

  • Istanbul Convention – adopted by Council of Europe, 2011. Open for signing
  • Eurobarometer on Violence against Women
  • European Observatory on Violence against Women
international monitoring mechanisms
International monitoring mechanisms
  • Reporting to the CSW – 2013 – on VAW
  • Reporting to the CEDAW committee

- General Recommendation 19.

- VAW - discrimination

  • Reporting to the CERD Committee
  • The Universal Periodic Review

In the Concluding document from the CSW 57, States have agreed to:

  • Accelerate efforts to develop, review and strengthen policies, and allocate adequate financial and human resources,
  • Address the structural and underlying causes of violence against women and girls, including gender discrimination and unequal power relations between women and men
  • (Accelerate efforts to eradicate poverty and persistent legal, social, and economic inequalities, including by strengthening women’s and girls’ economic participation, empowerment and inclusion, in order to decrease their risk of violence).
international monitoring mechanisms contd
International monitoring mechanisms contd
  • The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women - RashidaManjoo
  • Due Diligence

The States’ positive duty to Prevent, Protect, Prosecute and Provide good services to victims

- The question of Impunity


Where does Domestic Violence take place?

  • In our families

i:e in the very core / nucleus of our societies


In the space where our children are born and brought up

  • Where children learn values, where they learn right and wrong, build up their own identities as future citizens of our societies
  • Therefore Domestic Violence is not only a violation and betrayal of the particular victims, but also a profound betrayal of our children, of their future, and our societies in general

Impact on children

  • Children who grow up in families where there is violence may suffer a range of behavioural and emotional disturbances.

These can also be associated with perpetrating or experiencing violence later in life.

  • Intimate partner violence has also been associated with higher rates of infant and child mortality
health consequences
Health consequences
  • Physical health
  • Psychological/ mental health
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Can increase vulnerability to HIV. (WHO)
  • At the individual level – the physical and psychological health impact on the individual victim
  • At the societal level – the demand / need for services from health professionals such as doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists etc.

In Europe violence costs 16 billion Euroaccording to the COE report.

  • This estimate reflects costs in health services, including mental health and long term disability caused by injuries; policing and justice system costs; mortality; and the loss of economic productivity from victims.
in norway
In Norway
  • How did it all start in Norway?
  • Brought to light by the women’s activists, women in politics and women in research
  • Brussels Tribunal in 1977
  • First Crisis Centre - in Oslo in 1978
violence against women in norway an overview
Violence against women in Norway - an overview
  • 1 out of 4 women in Norway have suffered violence or threats of violence
  • 1 out of 10 women over 15 years has been raped
  • 1 out of 10 women over 15 years has experienced that their partner has used a weapon, strangled or beat her head against the floor or other objects (2005, Nibr)
  • Equality and Wealth
  • Minority women and Norwegian Women

In Norway violence in close relationships (domestic violence) costs between 4 ½ - 6 billion NOK (VISTA report)


In Norway today - Domestic violence is unacceptable – taken 30 years of work

  • There is acknowledgement that it must be prevented, worked against and alleviated through measures to help and protect the victims and through treatment and prosecution of the perpetrators.
crisis centres shelters for victims of domestic violence
Crisiscentres / shelters for victimsofdomesticviolence

The core services oftheshelter service:

  • 24 hours shelter, counseling by day, follow-up in the resettlement phase, and counseling by telephone.
  • Safe and free temporary housing for women and children (and men)
  • Daytime services for former residents and others
  • Counseling, individually and in groups
  • Follow-up in re-establishment phase
  • Assistance to contact the support system
  • Special services for different groups, for eg. victims of forced marriage and victims of trafficking, Prison project

The term violence in close relationships includes many different forms of violence; intimate partner violence, forced marriages, female genital mutilation (FGM), honour related crimes and sexual and physical abuse of children.

  • These forms of violence have common characteristics – the victims are mainly women and the violence is perpetrated by a person or persons known to victim.
plans of action
Plans of Action

Separate plans and strategies for each form

  • Mutually supplementary and are intended to ensure a coherent approach to combating violence in close relationships.
  • A 5th Plan of Action launched this year for 2014 – 2017
  • Involves commitment from six ministries
  • 45 measures based on the need to see the work against these forms of violence in an integrated, cross-sectoral perspective
plans of action1
  • Action Plan to combat violence against women ( 2000 – 2003 )
  • Action Plan to combat intimate partner violence ( 2004 – 2007 )
  • Action Plan to combat intimate partner violence( 2008– 2011 )
  • Action Plan to combat intimate partner violence (2012)
  • Action Plan against forced marriages (2008-2011)
  • Action Plan against female genital mutilation (FGM) (2008-2011)
  • Action Plan against forced marriages and FGM (2012)
  • Strategy against physical and sexual violence against children (2005-2009)
  • Action Plan to combat Human Trafficking (2011-2014)
a white paper
A White paper
  • The first in Norway on violence against women and domestic violence approved by Parliament this year - taken us 30 years to get here
  • This was followed up with the new action plan for the period 2014-2017.

In 1988, unconditional public prosecution was introduced in cases of domestic violence.

- A criminal case may be brought before the court, even if the woman withdraws the formal report.


A special penal sanction for violence in intimate relationships entered into force on 1 January 2006.

  • covers mental abuse
  • Punishment for abuse in intimate relationships is increased from three to four years, for aggravated abuse the punishment is up to six years.
  • A considerable increase in penalty levels within the sentencing frameworks for all forms of domestic abuse.
  • In the new Penal Code, when entered into force, the levels will be raised further to a maximum of six years for domestic abuse and 15 years for gross domestic abuse.
consequences of violence against women
Consequences of Violence against Women

Through amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act of 1 July 2008

  • the rights of victims in the criminal procedure have been strengthened, in particular for victims of sexual abuse
  • More victims are given free legal counsel to assist them during the police investigation and trial

A law prohibiting female genital mutilation (FGM) in 1995, amended in 2004.

This prohibition also applies when the procedure is carried out outside Norway.

For certain groups of professional practitioners and employees, it is a punishable offence not to attempt to prevent FGM.


On 4 July 2003, the Norwegian Penal Code was amended to include a provision on forced marriage. The penalty for causing forced marriage is imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years.

  • Human trafficking is a criminal offence in Norway. An act prohibiting the purchase of sexual services in Norway entered into force on 1. January 2009,

Shelter law of 2010

  • The purpose is to ensure that persons exposed to violence or threats of domestic violence have access to a good, comprehensive shelter service.

Persons exposed to trafficking may also be covered by the law.

- Imposes upon the municipality a legal obligation to provide shelter services and coordinated assistance for victims of violence in close relationships.

- The law emphasizes that it is a public responsibility to make sure that victims of domestic violence receive protection and assistance.

other measures
Other Measures

Family Violence Coordinators

  • A full-time position in all police districts
  • To help ensure that the police meet the victim of violence and her family and friends with understanding, knowledge and insight – in both professional and human terms
  • In the largest police districts, separate teams are being established to work on cases of domestic violence

Protection / Restraining Orders

Ban on visiting/ getting close to, following or limiting the freedom of another

Ban on staying close to or in the vicinity of the other – 2005


Mobile violence alarm

  • On 1 January 2004 the police initiated a nation-wide system of mobile violence alarms. Used in combination with other measures, like ban of visit (restraining order), mobile violence alarms are intended to give persons under threat of violence greater freedom of movement and help prevent violence and threats.

The alarm system is based on two geographical positioning systems (GPS and GSM) to ensure that the police can locate the person under threat as accurately as possible

  • When the alarm is triggered, the person concerned can communicate directly with the police operations centre
  • To ensure that the alarms are used effectively in every police district, special guidelines for the provision of mobile violence alarms drawn up
  • As of May 2011, a total of approximately 1,800 alarms were in operation.

Most of the shelters in Norway have up to now been run by women’s NGOs involving some voluntary work

In the spring 2009 the parliament passed a new act that imposes upon the municipality a legal obligation to provide shelter services and coordinated assistance for victims of violence in close relationships.

- The law emphasizes that it is a public responsibility to make sure that victims of domestic violence receive protection and assistance.


A national resource center on violence and traumatic stress (NKVTS)

  • to integrate and strengthen expertise in violence, family violence and sexual abuse
  • The center is engaged in research, development work, training, guidance and counseling
  • Five Regional Resource Centers for the field of violence and trauma have also been established, which assists the service apparatus with information, guidelines and expertise development, and create networks between all relevant partners in the region

A survey of a selection of spousal homicide cases

(Among the 28 victims of murder in Norway in 2012, 6 were women murdered by their intimate partner.

In the period of 1991 to 2011 the number of women murdered by their intimate partners was 152 (constitutes between 20% and 30% of the murders committed every year) )

  • The objective is to strengthen the knowledge base regarding risk factors and possible warning signs.
  • Will help develop better and more focused protective measures and better prevention strategies

Spousal Assault Assessment Guide-Police Version(SARA) are established – pilot projects

This is a tool that the police can use to evaluate risk factors for future serious spousal violence.


A nationwide network of Children’s Houses – on the Icelandic model

- Children subject to sexual abuse or violence, or have witnessed violence or abuse in intimate relationships, are offered help, care and treatment

- Includesnewmethods for interview and medicalexamination.


For Perpetrators

  • The foundation Alternative to Violence offer counselling and help to perpetrators

- take responsibility for the violence

- anger management

  • In process of establishing nationwide treatment facilities for perpetrators
  • .

Electronic monitoring

  • In May 2009, a legal amendment that authorizes the use of electronic monitoring of a ban on contact or visit
  • as part of a sentence
  • in line with the perspective that insists that the abuser must take responsibility for his acts and that it is the abuser – and not the victim – who must bear those consequences, in that his freedom of movement is restricted
challenges ahead
Challenges ahead
  • Establish good predictable routines for cooperation
  • Good gender desegregated statistics and documentation

 Prevent that victims of violence are shunted from one helper or service to another by creating a more coherent and unified chain of services for victims of domestic violence – providing a good coordinated provision of services – eg Family Justice Centre model


Sustainability of measures

Raise the efforts to combat domestic violence from the level of pilot projects or temporary programmesinto the structures and routines of the various agencies, resulting in their sustainability at institutional level

  • Building and strengthening the expertise of persons and agencies that deal with victims of domestic violence

Providing good rights based service provision

  • Ensuring that the relevant authorities carry out their positive duty to the 4 Ps (in consultation with women’s NGOs)
  • Prevention – addressing gender stereotypes
  • Protection
  • Prosecution -Culture of impunity leading to a culture of violence
  • Provision of good services

We need to always keep in mind that domestic violence which is a human rights violation can lead to societal decay – to a society with no social cohesion and no trust among its citizens

  • There is no time to lose!