On request, here is the English version of “Nu ska barnen omhändertas i jakten på rösterna“ They will take the children to get the votes
I have been reading articles, hearing statements on TV and I am thinking about where we are headed, again. The Swedish political party Moderaterna suggested that the police and public prosecution ought to be given the possibility to claim custody of children of gang members, under the Care of Young People (Special Provisions) Act. The leader of Moderaterna, Ulf Kristersson, says that it will send an important message.
My concern is to whom this message is sent. To me it is a very strange statement from Kristersson. Just because a parent is a criminal it does not mean that he or she is a bad parent. So, who is the intended recipient of Kristerssons message? The children born into the the wrong family who therefore needs to be punished? Or perhaps he is merely flirting with the voters of the Sweden Democrats (a political party based on the Swedish xenophobic movement of the 90’s), that Moderaterna wants to stay on their side, to keep them voting for them during the election.
Not only Kristersson thinks that children of criminals should be taken care of by social services. The leader of the Liberals, Nyamko Sabuni, states that taking children into custody should be done to a greater extent than today. Sabuni sides with Kristersson sharing a similar attitude and join in on the hunt for the votes of the Sweden Democrats. Sabuni, who managed to get three billion sek especially for this cause during budget negotiations, is working to increase these numbers and get authorities to spend even more money on taking the children into custody. As if the money is burning a hole in her pocket.
We, in Sweden, have a history of taking custody of children solely based on their heritage. This was made during the 30’s and 40’s and our government has acknowledged this as a wrongdoing. Shall we, really, go down that path one more time? Why not reopen the orphanages and allow society to through discipline eradicate the criminality from the children, the same way Sweden in the past tried to eradicate the traveller culture from the children of the Travellers?
The police’s in Skåne, south of Sweden, register of Roma people, the so called Kringresanderegistret (The Traveller Registry) is an example as to what happens when you categorize people based on ethnicity. Now the idea is to expose children to the same treatment because their parents are gang members. The registry from Malmö shows us not only the importance of working with minority rights but also the importance of not ever allowing innocents being registered due to ethnicity or due to your parents.
I remember the first time I heard of Kringresanderegistret. It was a sunny and slightly chilly day and I was on my way home from Norway after visiting my son. As I approached the Swedish border, I managed to get a Swedish channel on the radio, and it was then and there I heard the news and I could hardly believe it was true. But it was. You would think that we learned something from what happened then, 2013, and not make the same mistake again in a new version today, 2020.
Now the important thing is to not back down, not go back but go forward and realize what a mistake it would be to take children away from their families based only on the way their parents make money. And if this vote-fishing proposal from Sabuni and Kristersson really applies to everyone, regardless of their position in society, who has a criminal lifestyle this will be an expensive experiment since we have crime in every strata of man. But then again, that was probably never the idea in the first place, as always we can spot class as a factor in society’s idea of what children to take into care.
Another thing that has been bothering me is what happened to the voice and perspective of the children, and in what way this proposal has been reviewed considering the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, something that Sweden is obliged to do by law.
Britt-Inger Hedström Lundqvist
The translation is done by Johanna Olsson and Jonas Dahl Kazmierczak
The Swedish version Nu ska barnen omhändertas i jakten på rösterna