Criminalise coercive control in Denmark - report

Danmark lever ikke op til forpligtelsen om at beskytte voldsudsatte piger og kvinder, fordi psykisk vold ikke er selvstændigt strafbart. Dermed bryder Danmark Istanbulkonventionen og svigter samtidig indsatsen for at nå FN's verdensmål nummer fem.
12. juli 2017

Danner er medafsender af ny rapport til vores politiske ledere om at opfylde FN's verdensmål.
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Denmark is committed to protecting women exposed to domestic violence and to ensuring a criminalisation of coercive control. However, Denmark violates this commitment, which is enshrined in both the Istanbul Convention and in Danish legal practice.

By Lisbeth Jessen, CEO, Danner

The worst side effect of intimate violence – apart from murder! - is the risk of never getting back on one’s feet again: the risk of becoming an alcoholic, the risk of depression and angst, the risk of giving birth to an underweight child, and the risk of never being able to work again. These are known risk-factors to survivors of domestic violence. Women are most likely to be abused and they often describe coercive control as the most difficult to recover from.

Target 5 of SDG5 is to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. Coercive control, also known as intimate terrorism, is the most common form of violence, and females are the most common victims; this form of violence is therefore the most crucial to defeat.

Coercive control involves repeated threats of violence, isolation, or having your judgment or actions suppressed and over time you lose your selfesteem. More than half a million Danes live or have lived in a relationship with coercive control. This is a threat to public health in Denmark and to tens of thousands women’s right to a healthy life with equal opportunities.

To meet the SDGs Denmark needs to put an end to coercive control. An individual criminalisation of coercive control in Danish criminal code, would not only help more abused women to break out from a violent relationship and stop the abuser, it would also breed a culture of not accepting coercive control.

Three current legal paragraphs in the Danish criminal code could be used to prosecute the perpetrator of repeated controlling behavior. However, a new law study from University of Copenhagen shows that these have never been applied in Court.

A particularly vulnerable group is women with ethnic minority background whose residency in Denmark relies on a violent husband. Surprisingly, the Danish Immigration Service does not take domestic abuse into consideration when assessing her and her children’s right to stay in Denmark.

We must leave no-one behind: Every woman exposed to coercive control in Denmark, no matter what her residency status, should receive respectful protection until her situation is stabilised and settled. This is also in line with the Istanbul Convention.

Denmark should:

  • Follow the example of England and Scotland by criminalising repeated coercive control.
  • Give abused women with fragile residency equal access to justice, thus leaving no-one behind
  • Recognise that coercive control amongst others is a gender equality challenge, and that means of prevention should be addressed as such.