Immigrant Women Facing Male Partner Violence – Gender, Race and Power in Swedish Alien and Criminal Law

Monica Burman


This article deals with the ways in which gender and race are recognized and addressed in Swedish criminal and alien law with reference to men’s violence against women with insecure residency. It offers an analysis of Swedish preparatory works and case law which seeks to unmask and problematize intersecting power structures and discourses in law. The analysis shows that a perspective on men’s violence against women as related to gender and power to some extent has been implemented in and had significant effects on criminal law, while the significance of race and racism has not been properly acknowledged. Swedish alien law is blatantly lacking in an understanding both in terms of gender power relations and of the ways in which men’s violence against women can be racialized or culturalized. The main conclusion is that there are significant processes of ‘othering’ abused women in both legal areas, but especially in alien law where abused migrant women are constructed as unwanted in the Swedish society when no longer fulfilling their function as men’s partners. The author argues that the notions that men’s violence against women always harms women and is about the assertion of power and control over women should be placed at the centre of an intersectional approach to law and policy. Such an approach will hopefully contribute to counteract current Swedish problems associated with a simplified approach to gender, race and men’s violence against women.


gender: race: intersectionality: violence against women: Swedish criminal law; Swedish alien law

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