Combating negative social control is “part of Norway’s commitment to the Istanbul Convention”

Hiding face social controlPhoto: Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash
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This is article two in Norway’s two-part series on the current status of negative social control in Norway.

In this article, we explore official statistics relating to negative social control in Norway. We also relay statements Norway’s State Secretary Grunde Almeland of the Ministry of Education and Research gave Norway Today on the topic.

For background on what negative social control is, and how it’s perceived in Norway – head to part one of this series here.

Explain negative social control in Norway?

Almeland tells us, “The freedom to decide over one’s own life is fundamental in our society. All people have the right to live their lives in freedom from negative social control and forced marriage. Recently, we launched a plan with 33 new measures that will help protect fundamental rights.

“Negative social control can occur in different environments and population groups. The new plan takes this into account, at the same time as it continues the government’s efforts against negative social control as part of the work with integration.

“Everyone must be able to live a free and independent life. It is a fundamental human right to make one’s own life choices. It can be about the right to make independent choices about education, work, and spouse, and a life without violence and abuse. Combating this has a high priority for the government.”

Who is most affected by negative social control in Norway?

“When talking about prevalence, this is based on the annual report from 2019 by The Expert Team for the Prevention of Forced Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (Expert Team). This is a national inter-agency team that assists the support services in specific cases of forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and other forms of honor-related violence. We do not have figures from cases handled by the support services without the support of the Expert Team. These figures, therefore, give an idea but do not give the full picture.

1) In 40% of the cases the person was under 18 years old, 58% was over 18 years, 2% age was not known.

2) 17% of the cases concerned boys/men, 77% concerned girls/women, 6% gender unknown.

3) The following countries of origin are the most prevalent: Pakistan (18%), Somalia (16%), Syria (14%), Afghanistan (11%), Iraq (9%).”

Who are the main inflictors of negative social control in Norway?

“We don’t have data on this.”

What have been negative social control types and trends over the last decade, and for 2020?

This is the Annual report for 2020 of the Expert Team. Norway has not made the reports available in English – only Norwegian.

The top offenses stated in the report are: Threats/violence 17.1%, Negative social control 14.9%, and Suspicion of forced marriage 10.5%.

Almeland did not yet have the data on hand when we spoke, but he pointed us to 2019: “For previous years, see the Annual report for 2019 (in Norwegian).

Is there a correlation between demographics and the type of negative social control inflicted?

“We don’t have data on this.”

Are numbers expected to increase in 2021?

“This is too early to say.

“The number of cases has been fairly stable during 2020. See for example the cases reported from the Directorate of Integration and Diversity’s (IMDI) Minority Counselors in schools.

“Please note that the increase in 2020 is also related to an increase in the number of Minority Counselors available. 

“But the Minority Counselors did experience fewer cases during lockdown, and an increase after the schools re-opened.

“It is difficult to say what the trend this summer will be.”

What is being done to curb negative social control in Norway? What’s the current action plan and how will it change in the future?

“This is the last Action Plan for 2017-2020.

“The new action plan titled Freedom from negative social control and honor-related violence (2021-2024) launched on June 15.

“There are also measures in the Government strategy for integration, where one of four pillars is ‘the right to decide over one’s own life.'”

Does negative social control represent a human rights violation?

“It may violate an individual’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“See for example Article 2.2. that states that ‘States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child’s parents, legal guardians, or family members.’

“See also the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, that Norway ratified in 2017. 

“The previous and the new action plan are part of Norway’s follow-up to its commitment to the Istanbul Convention.”

Which municipalities are least and most affected by negative social control (at least in measurable terms. i.e. reported cases)?

“We don’t have data on this.”

Do you have a ballpark figure as to how many cases go unreported? Who can report cases and what are resources that victims can turn to in Norway?

“Reports from the national Expert team (see above) are the main source.

“IMDI also publishes annual reports on the number of cases handled by Minority Counselors in schools and Integration Counselors at Norwegian Embassies. However, please note that many of these cases are also included in the report from the Expert Team, as the team also gives advice to the Minority Counselors and Integration Counselors. The number of cases to the respective services can therefore not be added.

“For more resources, please see this, this, and this. “

(All resources given by the government were in Norwegian)

How is negative social control in Norway related to integration?

“Negative social control may be a barrier to integration in the sense that it can prevent youth, women, or men from making independent choices about whether to take an active part in society through education, employment, or civil society activities.

“That can contribute to isolation from the local community and wider society, it may prevent the development of language skills, etc.”

Do you have any known reasons or guesses as to why instances of negative social control in Norway have been increasing over the years?

“With increased attention on negative social control as a challenge that must be addressed, more measures have been put in place, such as available front line services and information campaigns.

“This in return has led to an increase in the number of cases. This implies that more people are aware of their rights and where to find help. It also indicates that efforts to raise the competencies in the front line services result in more cases of negative social control being disclosed and followed-up with the help of the Expert Team, and reported on.”

Source: #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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