Research collaboration will compare domestic violence in Sweden and in China

Oct 22, 2018 | Research/Cooperation Global

A research collaboration between Mälardalen University (MDH) and Shandong University, China will compare the situation for women exposed to domestic violence in Sweden and China.



The researchers will take laws as their point of departure and compare the views of violence against women at large.

- We’ll also be looking at how organisations that take care of women exposed to domestic violence work, says Mehrdad Darvishpour, Associate Professor of Social Work, who together with Pernilla Liedgren, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, are to carry out the study with colleagues from China.

Since 2014 MDH has had a partnership with universities in China through the Linnaeus-Palme exchange programme. The exchange of knowledge is central to the cooperation, which focuses on education and learning, and during the exchanges the guests will give lectures, visit various organisations and participate in seminars. 

- When we discussed how to continue our cooperation we suggested that we develop it at the research level as well. We talked about a research study and arrived at making a comparative study about domestic violence in our respective countries, says Mehrdad Darvishpour.

Statistics show that domestic violence is relatively frequent in Sweden, if you look at reported incidents and rapes compared with other countries. In terms of population the reported incidents are more numerous in Sweden than in China. But this does not necessarily mean that women in Sweden are more exposed to violence. 

- The statistics could be affected by gender awareness, a stricter view of what is classed as violence and to what extent women dare to report, and also to what degree laws and authorities and other organisations facilitate for women exposed to violence to withdraw from relationships, says Mehrdad Darvishpour. 

Difference in views and resources

The view of domestic violence can also vary between the countries:

- While we in Sweden have one of the more progressive views for how we are to combat domestic violence, China has a somewhat more conservative view.

One direct difference is who can report crimes of violence.

- In Sweden it is classed as a general crime, which means that it does not have to be the victim who must report but a witness for example. In China, however, the victim has to report, and this we believe can have the consequence that many people do not dare to report, perhaps because they are ashamed, they are afraid or because they don't believe that they will get any help, says Mehrdad Darvishpour.

Mehrdad Darvishpour has a thesis that greater resources are allocated in Sweden to counteract domestic violence than in China, through for example money for women’s crisis centres and action plans to counteract violence:

- Are there corresponding resources in China? Our impression is that this is limited, and so as not to base our judgement on prejudices we are planning to carry out a comparative study.

Exchanges have shown differences


Through their exchanges the Swedish and Chinese researchers have gained an insight into the social work in both countries.

- Sweden has a long history of social work, whereas the profession has not existed for so long in China. Therefore we believe that in China we have a lot to learn from Swedish experiences, and we want to compare what help is given by organisations in the two countries to women exposed to violence, says Li Zhinuo, one of the researchers from Shandong University who is participating in the research collaboration.

Mehrdad adds:

- China is a large country in which social work is not as developed as in Sweden. Sweden is one of the countries where social work as a profession has the highest status. China does not have such long experience, and there is a lot of voluntary work that we can learn from, but there it is not certain that all the questions come up to the surface.

The political situation also means that at the beginning the researchers were sceptical as to how a research collaboration could take shape:

- The delicacy of this issue in combination with the political situation means that the material we can work with is limited. But nevertheless we want to take this opportunity since we believe that this can be a fruitful and exciting research collaboration, says Mehrdad Darvishpour.