Violence against women

The European Agency for Fundamental Rights has run a survey about sexual violence in European countries.

Denmark is top of the poll with 52% of women surveyed experiencing physical or sexual violence from a partner or a non-partner since the age of 15. The average in the EU is 33%.

If you look at the reports in the UK press, where the UK’s stats are also higher than the average at 44%, it is a straight report of the press release. They report: there is a major problem with violence against women and true figures may be much higher because women may not have considered some of their experiences to have been assault.

The Danish press spin this line in another way. There is no way that backwards bloody European countries treat their women better than Denmark, they say. The women in Denmark are empowered to report, so the figures are skewed.

Ok, let’s just say that is right. Then the European average proportion of women who have been attacked is much higher than 50%, surely? Because the average women being attacked in Denmark IS 52%. That is fucking shocking, even if another country has a bigger problem. This is the problem with ranking countries like this. If Denmark came at the bottom of the table at 52%, they would be able to be complacent about being better than Greece (or wherever) and if Denmark comes at the top of the table at 52%, they are able to be complacent because the survey did not get the real answer because women in other countries are so much more oppressed.

No action needed? Come on guys, we can’t just ‘other countries are worse’ our way out of everything!

The Equality Minister of Denmark and the author of the report have suggested that Danish women are experiencing these high levels of violence because Danish men are jealous of women’s success in the workplace.

My understanding is that greater independence of women leads to less violence, not more. Abusers like their victims isolated and dependent.

The issue with blaming the women’s movement on greater levels of violence against women is that the women’s movement was conceived as a method of reducing violence against women.

Without a women’s movement: women are attacked (with no recourse to help or justice) because they are vulnerable. With a women’s movement: women are attacked (with some recourse to help and justice), because they have recourse to help and justice.

Really? Sounds incredibly weak, sorry. What I am left with is that men feel like they can attack women. It is a structural problem not a problem with what women are or are not doing. 

Men feel like they can do it. So they do it.*

Other countries with high levels of reported violence also have bigger drinking cultures. Maybe it could be that Danish men are getting more sexually aggressive because they are drunk? Except, a recent study has gone some way to debunking that.

The study is an interesting read. 90% of sexual violence in bars is male on female. This is worth repeating because I find that whenever someone talks about violence against women, someone will say that women attack men sexually too. They may even have a personal experience. And it is bad, I’m not denying it. It’s really bad. But we’re going to talk about the 90% of cases right now. This isn’t a case of ‘both as bad as each other’, it really is not. (Similarly, the FRA study suggests that in 80% of physical or sexual attacks on women by non-partners, men are involved.)

The rest of the report about behaviour in bars found no correlation between level of inebriation and level of instigation. Alcohol does not make men more sexually aggressive. What they found was that men are going to bars to target inebriated women because they are more vulnerable to attack. These men are predators. They are not confused or led on, they are deliberately going to places where their marks are less able to prevent them from attacking.

So, if greater alcohol culture is to blame for the high levels of sexual violence in Denmark, that says something quite disturbing about Danish men. They are not helpless victims of the demon drink, they are going after incapacitated women because they are easier to attack.

Only quite recently did the Danish government change the law that it was not ‘rape’ to rape your drunk wife. It was only sexual assault. With that sort of prevailing cultural attitude, you can see how that might translate into behaviour.

I looked in more detail at the figures from the FRA.

Physical and/or sexual violence at the hand of a partner or non-partner since age 15: 52%

Physical and/or sexual violence from a partner since age 15: 32%

Physical and/or sexual violence from a non-partner since age 15: 40%

Suggesting that it is not domestic violence at the heart of this matter (although, that is obviously a big problem).

Physical violence from a partner or non-partner since age 15: 48%

Physical violence from a partner since age 15: 29%

Physical violence from a non-partner since age 15: 36%

Women are being more often attacked by men who are not their partners. (Remember, the stats say that 80% of the non-partners involved in these attacks were male)

Sexual violence from a partner or non-partner since age 15: 19%

Sexual violence from a partner since age 15: 11%

Sexual violence from a non-partner since age 15: 11%

Suggesting Denmark has a much bigger problem with physical violence than sexual violence. 

Looking at the stats of where these assaults are taking place:-

20% at school or workplace, 18% in someone else’s home, 18% in a cafe or bar, 17% outside in a public place and 15% in own home.

Those 20% of attacks at school or work will not have been alcohol fuelled, presumably. (Unless of course, they only interviewed women who work with drunks like police officers and emergency room doctors.)

My take on it is that our culture says that women should be and act a certain way and men should have certain privileges and violence is used to enforce this. No amount of saying women’s rights have won is going to change the essential truth that they really have not.

When Danes get up on their high horse about how Muslims treat ‘their’ women, it is irritating. These Danes do not have any Muslim friends, male or female. They are going on prejudice and ignorance. But when you realise that whatever the problems ‘The Other’ have, Danish women do not have it that much better,  it makes the prejudice so much harder to bear.

Women in Denmark are attacked, mostly by men, in large numbers. It is mostly regular violence but sexual violence is also an issue. It is mostly non-partners but abuse from partners is also a major problem.

Complacency is rife, along with trying to find out what these women were doing that gets them into harm’s way.

Let’s look at it another way. What is making men think that they can attack others? What is making men feel like a woman is fair game for sexual violence? Why aren’t the courts full to bursting with these cases of violence?

* Obviously not all men. If it’s not about you, it’s not about you.

16 thoughts on “Violence against women

  1. Wow, 52% is so much higher than I would have expected given how much one hears about how safe Denmark is and how equal the sexes are here. And the fact that physical abuse accounts for most of that is also surprising. When we first moved here – and now, granted this is Aarhus and not “big city” Copenhagen – we asked some of my husband’s coworkers where the unsafe parts of town were. And one of them said that he would let his teenage daughter walk anywhere in the city at night. This struck me as amazing, coming from a city where there are definitely shady areas that one does not go to after dark. Apparently, this vision of Denmark is not at all realistic. I mean, I know denial about certain issues can be pretty strong here, but it’s shocking to see it in actual hard numbers. Thanks for posting this.


    1. I was a bit surprised too. But then again, I have noticed that there is a pattern of reporting on violence against women in the media that may go some way to making people think it is less of a problem. It’s all very minimised.
      If the media can, they will blow up the crimes of non-white Danish people to epic proportion while the white Danes attacking women might get a mention in one of the smaller stories that fill up the side of the paper.
      There was one case where a woman was stabbed in the back repeatedly by her husband. The police showed up and noted cause of death as ‘suicide’. There was another case where a guy had been in prison two or three times for murder of a female partner, the sentences were so short, he was able to just bounce right out and do it again.
      (Of course, murder statistics have not been included in this survey.)
      It’s not so much the way that disturbed men kill women that concerns me about Denmark, that can and does happen everywhere, it’s the way the state colludes with these murderers.


      1. Yeah. I got a LOT more unhappy the more Danish I could understand. Before I could understand the news, I could believe the shit Danes told me.


  2. I get the impression that Danish people have a lower threshold for what sexual violence is than other people. In America, in my experience, men are much more forward and sexually aggressive and less likely to take no for an answer. We live in a higher end CT town and even here girls get gang raped and the high school boys rarely get charged for such a thing.
    According to my husband, unless a Danish woman is all over you and explicitly tells you that you can have sex, then a lot of men won’t do it or initiate because they are so afraid of being accused of something. I have heard Danish women say they were “raped” simply because both they are the guy were drunk and they regretted having sex. That to me is really unfair to Danish men.

    There is even this idea that men who like their women to be housewives (the horror in Denmark, right?) are basically wife beaters. Huh?


    1. Yes, in the States, there is a rape culture. This properly conducted study shows that it is the same in Denmark, whatever some random’s Danish husband claims.

      These are the actual questions asked in the survey so we don’t need to rely on your ‘impressions’ about ‘thresholds’. Here is the ACTUAL threshold for sexual and physical violence in this study:-

      *Physical violence*

      How often has someone:
      • Pushed you or shoved you?
      • Slapped you?
      • Threw a hard object at you?
      • Grabbed you or pulled your hair?
      • Beat you with a fist or a hard object, or kicked you?
      • Burned you?
      • Tried to suffocate you or strangle you?
      • Cut or stabbed you, or shot at you?
      • Beat your head against something?

      *Sexual violence*

      How often has someone:
      • Forced you into sexual intercourse by holding you down or hurting you in some way? [IF NEEDED: By sexual intercourse we mean here forced oral sex, forced anal or vaginal penetration]
      • Apart from this, attempted to force you into sexual intercourse by holding you down or
      hurting you in some way? [IF NEEDED: By sexual intercourse we mean here forced oral sex, forced anal or vaginal penetration]
      • Apart from this, made you take part in any form of sexual activity when you did not want to or you were unable to refuse?
      • Or have you consented to sexual activity because you were afraid of what might happen if you refused?

      The study didn’t look at crime stats, where the vanishingly rare false allegations would show up, the study asked women who had nothing to gain at all by lying in terms of either revenge or face-saving.

      11% by a partner, 11% by a non partner. 19% by one or the other or both.

      Do you honestly mean to suggest that just because your Danish husband said that Danish men are too scared of Danish women to rape them, that all those women were liars?

      Notice on the ‘physical violence’ question there is nothing about ‘being asked to stay home to look after the house and kids’.
      32% of Danish women have been seriously beaten by someone they love and is supposed to love them. Trying to minimise it with what you said is completely bizarre.


      1. No, but I don’t think 32% have been seriously beaten. Sorry, it just isn’t possible. You can go on and on and complain about Danish issues all day, but this just isn’t one. Denmark is a country in which men and women have almost equal footing and I have never witnessed it to be any other way. Danish men are some of the most respectful and gentle on the planet. Stop making them out to be the opposite when it is plain to anyone that has lived in the country that even the most burly Danish man is a gentle giant when it comes to women.


      2. This argument is about the weakest I have ever seen. It’s not possible because YOU didn’t witness it in your short time here?
        I think the cheese has slipped off your cracker, personally. You don’t need to come back here.


  3. lovemydane, I lived there for close to 11 years – witnessed plenty of both physical and ambient abuse, and have been the victim myself. Step outside your bubble and accept that not everyone has lived such a charmed life in fairytale land as you have in the short time you were there, that other viewpoints are equally valid as your own. ‘Almost’ equal is not the same as ‘equal’. If we go by your arguments, then I would suggest that the figures reported are much lower than they should be as I’ve seen so much. No one with half a brain would accept that as a solid scientific basis for any hypothesis or conclusion.


  4. I have seen some pretty bad behaviors on the part of Danish men. This idea that Danish men are “modern” and “enlightened” isn’t quite right. It seems superficially true until you know people. If you really get to know what goes on in people’s lives and how they behave in certain situations (as opposed to how they claim to behave), it clearly isn’t any better here than anywhere else.

    Now, statistically, I am in an age group that doesn’t get bothered much. I still met more than one man who tried to coerce me into saying yes to him. Thanfully, it was through verbal abuse, and not physical abuse. They were Danes. They were not classy, mild or nice. They were brutes, and I pretty much screamed until they backed down. All of the incidents happened in public, and I didn’t always get support from the people around. Sometimes, the support even went to the asshole. So no, Denmark’s men aren’t all enlighted White Knights.


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