Whole lot of Rosie

rosie IIWho needs eviscerated chooks to foretell the content and slant of the ABC’s next offering? Certainly not Quadrant Online reader Tati Sofaris, who contributed the item below predicting what audiences would see when Foreign Correspondent took Rosie Batty to Sweden, of all places, in search of domestic violence. As predicted, the programme amounted to an artful presentation of Batty’s credentials — and her all-but-declared inclination — to be gifted with entre to elected office. Also as predicted, it dealt with some prickly truths about violence against women by the simple and time-honoured ABC expedient of not mentioning anything that might pollute the authorised narrative, not even in passing.

Some 40% of Swedish women, viewers were informed, will be subjected to abuse in their lifetimes, and by way of illustrating the sort of brutes responsible the show featured an interview with a native Swede convicted of just that. Ms Sofaris was somewhat off in her prediction that he would be a stereotypical Nordic blond. As it happened, he was bald.

There was also, as further predicted, much airtime given to a professional Swedish feminist, a certain Ms Gudrun Schyman, who one gathers is Scandinavia’s answer to Anne Summers in that she frames the world solely in a uterine perspective. Schyman, it turns out with a little googling, crusades against domestic violence and for her nation’s acceptance and support of asylum seekers. This is where Batty’s ABC tour guide and publicist, Sally Sara, might have explored an interesting connection: while Sweden resolutely refuses to separate official crime statistics by offenders’ ethnicity, a considerable body of academic opinion asserts that the overwhelming majority of cases — as many as three in four, according to one estimate — involve new arrivals who bring with them the attitudes and misogyny of their homelands. A Swedish social researcher, Mehrdad Darvishpour, puts it thus:

A doctoral thesis from 2011 shows that foreign-born women, in particular those with low income, are three times more likely than Swedish-born women to experience domestic violence. Women who come to Sweden via ‘import marriages’ may be even more at risk. A study by Roks [a network of women’s shelters] from 2009 shows these women were over-represented among those who had contacted and been granted protection through their women’s shelters.

Had Foreign Corresponent’s favoured Swedish feminst, Ms Gudrun, been asked about abuse in migrant communities and by migrants, her standard response might given the game away by alerting viewers to the fact that misandry comes as easily to her lips as pickled herring. “This kind of harassment and violence has been going on for a long time in every country,” Schyman told Time magazine in January. “What is common is men!”

It is not as if Foreign Correspondent lacked the time in its allotted 30 minutes to touch on the fact that non-native Swedes figure prominently in what we were told is an epidemic of abuse. There were many minutes wasted on Rosie scooting about in a hovercraft or telling us yet again about the inner strength that allowed to go before the cameras so soon and so often after her son’s murder. Even with those scenes included, the show might have dispensed with its scene-setting ‘colour’ interludes of dog sleds and frozen lakes. Had Sara and her producer done so, there might have been time for the girls to get some genuinely startling footage by walking unveiled and defiant through the Islamic sections of Malmo.

Sadly, just as the ethnic factor in abusive marriages went pointedly unremarked by Foreign Correspondent, so did the drastic increase in non-familial sexual assault in Sweden, which even The Guardian has had to acknowledge (albeit by way of lamenting that attention to mass gropings and rape cases furthers the cause and appeal of parties on what it loathes as “the right”).

Where next for Rosie? Judging by the last night’s show and star billing at last year’s Progress 2015 Left-fest and networking event  in Melbourne, you can bet Stockholm-to-a-brick that we will see her soon on the hustings. The only question, really, is whether her flyers will oblige the fine-print inclusion of something like this:

“This election material is authorised by Sally Sara, Foreign Correspondent and Mark Scott’s ABC”

For those who missed the show and would like to check Ms Sofari’s predictions against the actual broadcast, it can be viewed in full via the link below.

— roger franklin

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