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Towards understanding the Nordic Paradox: a review of qualitative interview studies on intimate partner violence against women (IPVAW) in Sweden

  • Maria Wemrell
  • Sara Stjernlöf
  • Justine Aenishänslin
  • Marisol Lila
  • Enrique Gracia
  • Anna-Karin Ivert
Publishing year: 2019-04-25
Language: English
Publication/Series: Sociology Compass
Volume: 13
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article review
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Abstract english

Intimate partner violence against women (IPVAW) is a major public health problem in countries around the world, including the Nordic region. Contrary to what would be expected, as the Nordic countries are rated among the most gender equal in the world, survey data suggests that the lifetime prevalence rates of IPVAW in Sweden and neighboring Nordic countries are among the highest in the EU. This phenomenon, which has been termed the Nordic paradox, requires elucidation. The aim of this review is to explore what previous qualitative studies, based on interviews with or field observations of victims, perpetrators, or professionals working in the area, primarily in Sweden, have to teach us about the nature of this paradox. Three interrelated themes are discussed. The first is how gender equality is perceived and addressed as linked, or not, to IPVAW in Swedish research and practice. The second is how violence tends to be othered, for example, through assumptions that violence is perpetrated by foreign rather than Swedish men. The third is how causal mechanisms of IPVAW have been described, typically with reference to norms and dynamics of masculinity, femininity, and heterosexual interaction.


  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
  • Gender Studies


  • Social Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 1751-9020
maria wemrell
E-mail: maria [dot] wemrell [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se

Postdoctoral fellow

Social Epidemiology



Department of Gender Studies


Department of Gender Studies
Visiting address: Allhelgona Kyrkogata 14, House M, Lund
Postal address: Box 117, 221 00 Lund, Sweden
Phone +46 46-222 00 00 (operator)
Fax: 046-222 40 04

Faculty of Social Sciences