I skuggan av våldet - Om barns straffrättsliga skydd vid bevittnande av våld mellan närstående
Sammanfattning: Domestic violence is a serious and alarming social problem. Hundreds of thousands of children live in the shadow of domestic violence, forced to witness the brutality up close. The aim of this thesis is to describe and analyze the criminal justice protection available to these children by using a forensic method. The material used for this essay is based on the general sources of law together with litterature of non-legal nature. It shows that one in ten children in Sweden, at some point, has experienced domestic violence. These children are strongly affected and the consequences appear in both physical and mental forms, short-term as well as long-term. Furthermore, it is found that the psychological stress resulting from being a witness to such violence can be as harmful as being physically subjected to it. The essay argues that witnessing domestic violence should be equated to being subjected to psychological violence. Despite the extent of the problem and its serious consequences, children who witness domestic violence lack criminal justice protection under current Swedish law. The essay presents several categories of crime that include psychological violence, but practical obstacles make it impossible to apply those categories to affected children. Nor is there a single crime in the existing criminal code that regulates this situation, therefore children who witness domestic violence are not considered as plaintiffs. On January 1, 2020, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was incorporated into Swedish law. Article 19 of the Convention mandates comprehensive protection for children against all forms of violence, including exposure to domestic violence. In order to be in compliance with the Convention, Swedish law must expand the protection currently provided to affected children. For the past few years, lawmakers have drawn attention to this problem and even introduced three legislative amendments to increase the criminal justice system’s protection of these children. However, this thesis argues that these changes are not sufficient. Children must be granted plaintiff status in order to be guaranteed the protection required by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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