Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape of a person, regardless of gender, including spousal rape and domestic or intimate partner violence, are illegal and the government enforced the law effectively. Penalties for violations range from two to 10 years in prison.
The National Council for Crime Prevention (NCCP) reported 9,962 cases of rape in 2021, an increase of approximately 4 percent from 2020. Ninety-four percent of the cases were against women and girls. Domestic or intimate partner violence remained a problem, and approximately 36,500 cases between adults who knew one another were reported during 2021, a 120 percent increase from 2020. Of these, approximately 23,500 (64 percent) were cases against women.
The law provides for the protection of survivors from contact with their abusers. When necessary, authorities helped survivors protect their identities or obtain new identities and homes. National and local governments helped fund volunteer groups that provided shelter and other assistance for abused women.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C for women and girls and the government enforced the law efficiently. Penalties for violation range from two to six years in prison. A report from the National Board of Health and Welfare stated that approximately 5,000 women with the diagnosis FGM/C sought treatment between 2012 and 2018. Ninety-seven percent came from one country in Africa and 87 percent were between the ages of 18 and 39. The government has had an action plan against FGM/C since 2018 and several government agencies actively work to eradicate the practice.
Other Forms of Gender-based Violence: Honor-related violence often involved immigrants from the Middle East, Africa, or South Asia. The national support line for those who need advice in situations concerning so-called honor-related violence reported an increase of reported cases from 784 cases involving 907 suspected survivors in 2020 to 817 cases involving 884 suspected survivors in 2021. The calls mostly concerned child or forced marriage, abduction or being held abroad, or FGM/C.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and provides for criminal penalties ranging from a fine to up to two years in prison. The government generally enforced this law. On January 7, the Coalition for Women in Journalism reported that a local journalist was fired from Expressen, one of the country’s largest newspapers, because she spoke out about sexism and harassment in the workplace.
Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.
The government provided access to safe, effective, and equal reproductive healthcare regardless of gender or sexual orientation, as well as access to contraception of choice. Emergency contraception was also available.
NGOs known as the Association for Sexuality Education and Never Forget Pela and Fadime reported on virginity testing and hymenoplasty done by private medical practitioners. The government condemned these practices and stated they were not compatible with health and medical care legislation.
The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence. Emergency contraception was available as part of clinical management of rape.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men, including under family, religious, personal status, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance law. The government enforced the laws effectively.
Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination
The constitution charges public institutions with promoting equality in society and combating discrimination. The constitution prohibits unfavorable treatment of anyone based on ethnic origin, color, or other similar characteristics, and the government generally respected these rights.
Police registered reports of xenophobic crimes, some of which were linked to neo-Nazi or white supremacy ideology. Police investigated and the district attorney’s office prosecuted race-related crimes. The Security Service concluded that right-wing extremism was on the rise in the country; right-wing propaganda spread more widely and more individuals were interested in it. Neo-Nazi groups operated legally (see section 2.a.). The Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) and Nordic Strength (NS) are the largest white supremacy groups with approximately 200 active members in total. The NRM is registered as a political party and participated in the parliamentary and local elections in 2022 but did not win any seats.
There were problems involving vulnerable EU citizens, the vast majority of whom were Roma from Romania and Bulgaria who resided in the country. Roma were subjected to discrimination in healthcare, education, and employment, as well as perceived exclusion from societal functions due to stereotypes. Roma were often denied the right to rent apartments and the right to home language teaching. As EU citizens they are allowed to stay in the country without permission for no more than three months, but authorities did not enforce this limit.
The country’s official minority languages are all varieties of Finnish, Yiddish, Meankieli, Romani Chib, and Sami. Swedish sign language has a legal status similar to the official minority languages. On April 28 the government allocated approximately 40 million kronor ($3.72 million) per year between 2022 and 2024 to preserve and promote the official minority languages.
Basic training for police officers included training to identify and investigate hate crimes. Emergency call responders were continuously trained to identify hate crime motives in crime reports. Police cooperated with the NGO Victim Support Sweden that helps and supports survivors, witnesses, and others affected by crime.
Police in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo have democracy and anti-hate crime groups. The National Center for Preventing Violent Extremism, under the auspices of the NCCP, serves as a clearinghouse for information, best practices, and support of municipalities, agencies, and other actors.
The constitution charges public institutions with promoting opportunities for the Sami people, ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities, to preserve and develop cultural and social lives of their own. The approximately 20,000 Sami in the country are citizens who have the right to vote in elections and participate in the government, including membership in the country’s parliament. They are not represented as a group in parliament, however. A 31-member elected administrative authority called the Sametinget (Sami parliament) represents the Sami people. The Sami parliament acts as an advisory body to the government and has limited decision-making powers in matters related to preserving the Sami culture, language, and schooling. The national parliament and government regulations govern the Sami parliament’s operations.
On March 1, the national parliament adopted the Sami Parliament Consultation Order requiring that the government, government agencies, and municipalities consult with the Sami Parliament or other Sami representatives on issues of special significance to the Sami people. Sami and human rights groups welcomed the increased consultation but criticized the law for not specifying how much influence Sami representatives would have over the decision-making process after the consultation has been carried out.
Longstanding tensions between the Sami and the government over land and natural resources persisted, as did tensions between the Sami and private landowners over reindeer grazing rights. Certain Sami have grazing and fishing rights, depending on their history. The Church of Sweden presented a second official apology to the Sami during an October 21-23 public gathering in Lulea for past abuse committed in the name of the Church.
On March 28, the government gave Beowulf Mining a concession to mine in an area located on traditional Sami grazing land. UNESCO and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern about the mine’s impact on the environment and reindeer husbandry. Several additional approvals will be required before mining can begin.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from a child’s parents. The tax authority immediately registered all children born in the country, regardless of their parents’ citizenship or immigration or residency status in the country.
Child Abuse: The law prohibits parents or other caretakers from abusing children mentally or physically. Penalties range from a fine up to 10 years in prison. Cases of child abuse were reported. Authorities may remove abused children from their homes and place them in foster care. Rape of a child carries a penalty of two to 10 years in prison. During 2021 there were 24,310 child abuse cases reported.
Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The minimum age of marriage is 18, and it is illegal for anyone under 18 to marry. The government legally recognizes as valid the marriage of anyone who comes to the country after the age of 18, even if they were married abroad before the age of 18. The government does not recognize a foreign child marriage if either of the parties was a Swedish citizen or resident in Sweden at the time of marriage. Compelling or allowing a child to marry is punishable by up to two years in prison. Municipalities’ social welfare services can petition administrative courts to issue travel restrictions to protect at-risk children from being taken out of the country for marriage. Such children are not to be issued passports and passports that were issued are to be rescinded. The law makes it a crime to take a child who is subject to travel restrictions out of the country with punishment of up to two years in prison for violations.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law criminalizes “contact with children under 15 for sexual purposes,” including internet contact intended to lead to sexual assault. Penalties range from fines to one year in prison. The law prohibits the sale of children with penalties ranging from two to 10 years in prison. It also bans child pornography with penalties ranging from fines to six years in prison. Authorities enforced the law. The minimum age for consensual sex is 15.
Leaders of the Jewish community estimated there were 15,000 Jews and approximately 6,000 registered members of Jewish congregations in the country. In its report on hate crime from December 2021, the NCCP registered 170 cases of antisemitic hate crimes in 2020 that constituted five percent of all hate crimes. Most antisemitic hate crimes took place on social media. In 8 percent of cases the hate crime took place near a Jewish place of worship.
Antisemitic hate crimes included threats, verbal abuse, vandalism, graffiti, harassment in schools, and Holocaust denial. Antisemitic incidents were often perpetrated by groups associated with neo-Nazi movements or corresponded with events in the Middle East. Local Jews were often targeted for antisemitic attacks based on the actions of the Israeli government.
The most reported incidents of antisemitism were hate speech (52 percent of complaints), unlawful threats or harassment (15 percent), vandalism or graffiti (11 percent), and defamation (10 percent).
On January 19, the Expo Foundation reported protesters against COVID-19 restrictions compared themselves to Jewish victims during the Holocaust and wore yellow Stars of David. The messaging was echoed by a local politician. Demonstrators also linked COVID-19 restrictions, vaccinations, and COVID-19 certificates to conspiracy theories of “Jewish World Domination” and the Rothschild family, common antisemitic tropes.
On January 31, the Expo Foundation reported that antisemitic organizations spread their messaging via 15 podcasts on the streaming site Spotify.
On March 2, the Expo Foundation reported a Stockholm politician shared several antisemitic statements on social media that trivialized the Holocaust and alluded to conspiracy theories about a Zionist world order.
On June 20, a report from Malmo University stated antisemitism in Stockholm schools was prevalent and teachers often lacked the tools to address it. On August 11, media reported the new political party Nuance spread antisemitic conspiracy messages via social media, referring to “crushing the heads of Jews.” Nuance received 0.4 percent of the vote in the 2022 general elections but in several suburbs of Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo, and Orebro, Nuance received between 17 and 30 percent of the vote in municipal elections.
On August 31, the Swedish Labor Court determined that the 2021 firing of a Jewish neurosurgeon at Nya Karolinska University Hospital (NKS) had no valid grounds.
Police, politicians, media, and Jewish groups stated that antisemitism has been especially prevalent in Malmo. On June 15, the media reported that an imam in Malmo was charged with incitement to racial hatred for spreading antisemitic messages calling Jews “offspring of monkeys and pigs.” Between 2019 and 2023 the municipality is scheduled to allocate 20 million kronor ($1.9 million) to combat antisemitism in collaboration with the Jewish congregation.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center because Jews in Malmo could be “subject to antisemitic taunts and harassment.”
The Living History Forum is a public authority commissioned to address societal problems related to religious and ethnic tolerance, democracy, and human rights, using the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity as its starting point. The forum sensitized the public, particularly the young, to the need to respect the equal value of all persons, with a specific focus on teaching about the Holocaust as a means of fighting Holocaust denial and antisemitism.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report.
Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression, or Sex Characteristics
Criminalization: There are no laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults or so-called cross-dressing, including de facto discrimination, such as laws covering “debauchery.”
Violence against LGBTQI+ Persons: LGBTQI+ persons were at higher risk of being subjected to physical violence than the general population. According to the most recent statistics released by NCCP, there were 429 reports of hate crimes against LGBTQI+ persons in 2020.
Discrimination: The law prohibits discrimination by state and nonstate actors against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons. The government generally enforced such laws.
Availability of Legal Gender Recognition: There is a legal gender recognition law, but legal gender recognition procedures are not based on self-determination. The right to change one’s legal gender requires a psychiatric or psychological evaluation, but it does not require surgery.
Involuntary or Coercive Medical or Psychological Practices Specifically Targeting LGBTQI+ Individuals: According to a March 1 study, one out of five LGBTQI+ persons between 16 and 25 had experienced someone trying to have that person change, permanently hide, or refrain from living in accordance with their sexual orientation or gender identity or express their gender in the way the person wanted. Five percent had experienced more serious forms of so-called conversion therapy. The most severe cases included physical abuse, lack of access to food, and sexual violence. So-called conversion therapy practices are not banned.
Restrictions of Freedom of Expression, Association, or Peaceful Assembly: There were no restrictions on those speaking out about LGBTQI+ issues.
Persons with Disabilities
Persons with disabilities were able to access health services, public buildings, and transportation on an equal basis with others. Government regulations require new buildings and public facilities to be fully accessible. The government enforced these provisions. Observers reported cases of insufficient access to privately owned buildings used by the public, such as apartments, restaurants, and bars. Some means of public transportation remained inaccessible.
In 2021 the Equality Ombudsman received 1,212 reports on discrimination related to disability, of which 437 reported accessibility deficiencies. The complaints were mainly about perceived discrimination in working life, education, social services, and trade in goods and services. A large proportion of the complaints concerned the lack of reasonable accommodations in the workplace. In the education system, many cases concerned children and young persons with reading and writing difficulties not receiving sufficient support at school. With respect to trade in goods and services, many of the cases concerned access to premises or services and inadequate communication tools.
On January 27, the Agency for Participation reported persons with disabilities were encountering difficulties obtaining employment due to lack of coordination between the Swedish Public Employment Agency and the Swedish Social Insurance Agency, lack of clear information, and the time-consuming transfer of cases between different officers. The agency also reported the level of education was lower among persons with disabilities than among others in the population. Agency reports revealed two reasons for this report: special support was provided too late and students with disabilities felt more insecure than other students. Among persons ages 30 to 64 with disabilities, 33 percent had postsecondary education compared with 47 percent for the rest of the population. Within the group of persons with disabilities between the ages of 20 and 36, 9 percent had dropped out of upper secondary school compared with 3 percent in the rest of the population. In 2020 almost 13,500 students with disabilities enrolled in compulsory special school, constituting about 1.2 percent of all students in this age group. Of this group, approximately 5,130 students attended upper secondary special school and 1,250 students with disabilities attended special resource school. On April 19, media reported that a municipality had to pay compensation to a child with a disability due to a lack of wheelchair access that led to isolation and the inability to maintain personal hygiene.
The Agency for Participation noted that some polling stations in the general elections of 2018 were inaccessible for persons with disabilities. In the 2018 elections, 84 percent of persons with disabilities voted, compared with 91 percent of the rest of the population. On September 9, the Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired reported that the Election Authority had distributed faulty braille ballot papers to those visually impaired and, as a result, many visually impaired voters may have voted for the wrong party. The Association urged its members to re-vote, but it is unclear how many successfully did so on such short notice.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
Societal discrimination and violence against immigrants continued to be a problem.
Several districts where most of the population was of immigrant origin or parentage suffered social segregation from the rest of the country. The result was lower levels of education, higher levels of unemployment, and separation from the country’s mainstream culture. This was mainly due to poor Swedish-language skills.
In 2021 the NCCP identified 3,398 police reports from 2020 with hate-crime or xenophobic motives. Of the reports, 15 percent were Afrophobic and 9 percent were Islamophobic.
According to two 2022 Stockholm County Board research reports conducted by Uppsala University and Lund University, discrimination against immigrants from Africa is widespread in the labor market. The reports found the probability of a person with one or two parents from Africa attaining a managerial position was five times lower than for the rest of the population, regardless of educational background. The average salary for individuals who did not have one or two parents from Africa was 50 percent higher than for persons with one or two parents from Africa, despite having an equivalent level of education.
On September 20 media reported that a school in Upplands Väsby was accused of discrimination after moving newly arrived migrant students from the school to nearby barracks where they were instructed separately from the other students.