Karin Alfredsson travels the world to help stop violence against women
Author and journalist Karin Alfredsson founded 'Cause of Death: Woman' to investigate the worldwide epidemic of violent acts against women
(Page 2 of 2)
Alfredsson's book on that subject, "Den man älskar agar man?" ("The Person You Love You Hurt?"), was published in 1979. Since then, she has written 14 books – most of them dealing with women's issues.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Alfredsson played a pivotal role in pressuring Swedish politicians and the police to treat domestic violence not merely as a family matter but as potentially criminal, Ms. Wallström told the Monitor. "She really started the discussion."
Alfredsson considers herself to be a journalist, despite having written a series of fictional thrillers whose main character, a Swedish doctor named Ellen Elg, confronts acts of violence against women in countries as diverse as South Africa, Poland, Vietnam, and India.
As part of the new project, countries will be rated using several criteria, including whether they have effective legislation in place to prevent violence against women, whether their judicial system is dealing with the issue, whether measures exist to protect women threatened with or harmed by domestic violence, and whether they have programs to treat offenders.
Some countries already have taken significant steps. In Spain, model legislation has been enacted and a special court has been set up to deal specifically with cases involving violence against women.
In South Africa, with the highest rate of rape in the world per capita, according to the UN and Interpol, the Sonke Gender Justice Network works with men and boys to promote gender equality, prevent domestic and sexual violence, and reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the cost to society of "intimate partner violence" – rape, physical assault, and stalking – is more than $5.8 billion a year, including $4.1 billion in direct medical and health-care costs.
Most countries, however, have still not done enough to address the problem, according to a report published earlier this year by UN Women, a UN agency. Few countries have enacted legislation making rape within marriage a crime.
Wallström says her office has thrown its full support behind the Alfredsson initiative. "This is a global problem," she says. "Women are attacked because they are women.... This has to stop."
In some countries rape is seen as a "cheap and effective" weapon to instill fear and terror in a population, she says.
The UN Security Council has recognized violence against women as a significant impediment to peace and security, Wallström says. "But from recognizing the problem to being able to stop it is a big step," she says. "That is what we're now focusing on – going after the perpetrators and ending impunity.... It is a huge problem."
"I think that [Alfredsson's project] will help put the spotlight on the problem and intensify the debate," Wallström says.
• For more information, go to www.causeofdeathwoman.com (in Swedish, but it offers an English-language newsletter).
• For more stories about people making a difference, go here.