Sweden acts against sexual violence, harassment

Minister for Employment Ylva Johansson and Minister for Gender Equality Åsa Regnér in meeting with the social partners.
Photo: Ninni Andersson/Government Offices of Sweden

The #metoo movement in Sweden has powerfully demonstrated that more needs to be done to combat sexual harassment and sexual violence in workplaces and society at large. The Swedish Government requires all employers to take responsibility for a secure work environment.

In the area of work environment and discrimination there are already many tools and relevant legislation, but the power and size of the petitions show that there are deficiencies in compliance with the regulations.

For this reason, Minister for Employment Ylva Johansson and Minister for Gender Equality Åsa Regnér have met with the labour market and union partners, and several ministers have in recent weeks convened meetings with heads of government agencies and business leaders in order to focus on the responsibility of employers to counteract sexual violence and harassment.  

The testimonies regarding sexual violence and harassment in a great number of workplaces and schools that have emerged in the wake of the #metoo movement confirm that more needs to be done.

The Government has already adopted a number of initiatives, and the long-term measures against sexual violence and harassment already adopted by the Government include a new sexual offences legislation, the national strategy to prevent and combat men’s violence against women, the establishment of the new gender equality agency, and a national work environment strategy.

“Thanks to the important petitions in industry after industry, with testimonies about violations and harassment, we have moved the focus from women’s behaviour and appearance to talking about the responsibility of men. Feminist policy is needed, and the work against sexualised violence and harassment is a high priority for the Government. The new gender equality agency, which commences its activities in January, will play an important role in supporting government agencies and organisations to systematically achieve societal change,” says Minister for Gender Equality Åsa Regnér.

“Several of the testimonies made public have clarified the frequent link between working conditions and vulnerability to sexual harassment and abuse. Criminal acts committed at workplaces shall of course always be reported to be dealt with by the judicial system. But in addition to punishable acts, many women also bear witness to a completely unacceptable work environment. It is obvious that not enough has been done to rectify these problems,” says Minister for Employment and Integration Ylva Johansson.

Meetings with government agencies and the social partners
With reference to the #metoo petitions, the Government has initiated meetings about sexual violence and harassment with heads of government agencies, labour market and union partners, business leaders and the initiators behind the petitions. 

Concrete measures against violence and violations
The Government has both ongoing and planned measures to counteract sexual violence, harassment and violations. This involves preventive initiatives, stronger protection and support, more effective law enforcement, improved supervision and awareness-building measures.

Swedish Government