Violence against foreign-born women in Sweden

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


Violence against women (VAW) is an increasing public health concern. Prevalence of such violence may potentially be greater among foreign-born women due to lack of empowerment and other contributing factors. Research concerning violence against foreign-born women in Sweden is scarce. Thus, the general aim of this thesis was to obtain increased knowledge of exposure to interpersonal violence among foreign-born women in Sweden and to gain a better understanding of potential factors contributing to such exposure. Data was obtained from four different sources; the Scania Public Health Survey 2004 (Paper I), the Swedish Cause of Death Register 1991-2001 (Paper II), qualitative in-depth interviews with newly arrived Iraqi refugees (Paper III), and a Thai Public Health Questionnaire 2012 to Thai women residing in Sweden (Paper IV). The findings show that foreign-born women in Sweden are at increased risk of interpersonal violence, especially those with low disposable income, and foreign-born women also have an increased risk of mortality due to interpersonal violence, compared to Swedish-born women. Moreover, although information about the perpetrator was lacking in papers I and II, intimate partner violence may be implicated in some cases of interpersonal violence, due to a) significant associations with marriage/cohabitation and b) the home as a setting for such violence. In addition, low gender equity of country of birth was also a significant determinant of mortality due to interpersonal violence. Furthermore, among Iraqi refugees in Sweden, norms governing gender roles influence perceptions of intimate partner violence. Finally, in a sample of Thai women predominantly married to Swedish men, exposure to intimate partner violence was related to poor mental health. The risk for poor mental health was greatest among women with intimate partner violence and perceived social isolation and low social trust, respectively. Thus, among abused women, social trust and absence of social isolation may contribute to resilience against poor mental health. The current findings indicate the need for interventions directed towards foreign-born women and also towards men in order to reduce VAW and its harmful effects. Potential influence of gender equity of country of birth as well as other determinants of violence against foreign-born women need to be further researched and taken into account in the development of preventive work. Finally, such research may help to identify the mechanisms that contribute to VAW more generally.


  • Cecilia Fernbrant
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


  • Key words: violence against women, foreign-born, mortality, gender equity, social isolation, Iraqi refugees, Thai women
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2013 Apr 12
  • Division of Social Medicine and Global Health
Print ISBNs978-91-87449-04-8
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2013-04-12 Time: 09:00 Place: CRC Aula, Jan Waldenströms gata 35, ingång 72, Skånes Universitetssjukhus i Malmö External reviewer(s) Name: Schei, Berit Title: Professor Affiliation: Institutt for samfunnsmedisin, Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, Trondheim, Norge ---

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Related research output

Cecilia Fernbrant, Birgitta Essén, Per-Olof Östergren & Elizabeth Cantor-Graae, 2011, In: Women's Health Issues. 21, 3, p. 206-213

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