A growing number of female staff at Swedish accommodation homes for unaccompanied refugee children have been reported for having sexual relations with their wards, igniting a hot debate on ethics.
Earlier this year, a female attendant at a reception home for refugee children in the town of Skövde, was reported to have had sexual relations with several of the young people during her shifts. According one of the refugees, it happened “evening, night and morning” when the woman was on duty.
Furthermore, the woman reportedly tried to exert pressure on the refugee children via SMS and Facebook to encourage them to engage in sexual relations with her. One of the youngsters eventually raised the alarm about what happened. By his own admission, he tried to say no to the woman and admitted feeling very badly about what had taken place.
According to the Swedish news outlet Nyheter Idag, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Since the summer of 2015, when the migrant crisis started to reach its peak, IVO received many notifications, ranging from proven to suspected sexual relations between refugee children and female staff.
According to Nyheter Idag, at least 10 cases of sexual relations between staff and the young children have been reported over the last two years. Some of the reports are so heavily censored that it is difficult to distinguish their substance, whereas others contain no more information than “inappropriate relationship.”
In one of the cases, an employee at a refugee accommodation in Tranås openly admitted to having a relationship with one of the residents. In yet another case, a female employee from a refugee accommodation center in Borås reportedly had an intimate relationship with a 17-year-old boy for an extended period of time.
Earlier this summer, Swedish national broadcaster SVT reported on how staff at a refugee accommodation home had partied with refugee children, with one of the women giving a youngster a lap dance.
“This is not okay of course. The fact that staff have such an approach to children they work with does not look particularly professional,” IVO unit manager Maria Björklund said.
Remarkably, this case did not result in any notification of mistreatment, despite pledges from the municipality. This case has fueled suspicions of a large number of unreported abuse and illegal intimate relationships.
In 2016, the head of refugee accommodation home was reported to have had sex with refugee boys, while recording the acts. She was also reported to have treated the boys to alcohol and threaten them with expulsion if they failed to comply with her demands. A court investigation against the woman was later dismissed, the local newspaper Eskilstuna Kuriren reported.
Earlier this year, an anonymous confession on the publicly-financed reporting site Blankspot.se related the story of an adult woman having intimate relations with a refugee child, provoking a debate. In the text, the female protagonist meets the refugee boy in a train station, invites him home and lets him sleep on her couch.
“Then there are more visits, he’s placed at a refugee accommodation, but he can still spend nights at my place. The couch is no longer enough, and he follows me to bed. I texted a friend: ‘help, I have to have him in bed!’ Receive following answer: ‘Take it easy, we all do it.’ So I go ahead and give him close proximity,” the confession said.
“Sharing a bed with a patient? No. It means violating the physical integrity of somebody who is already in a very vulnerable situation,” Ann Heberlein wrote.
In 2015, Sweden received a record 35,000 asylum applications from “unaccompanied children,” followed by 2,200 in 2016.
The recent figures from the National Board of Forensic Medicine have shown, however, that over 83 percent of the age-tested unaccompanied refugees proved to be adults. Following this revelation, Conservative MP Hanif Bali tweeted that the bill for fraud had reached SEK 6 billion ($730 million) and was nearing the cost of the famed Øresund Bridge built between Sweden and Denmark.