The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wife beaters beware, a tax is in the air

London, Oct. 5: A group of Swedish politicians is proposing to hit men with a domestic violence tax in order to pay for the costs to society of abuse against women.

Sweden's parliament will open debate today on the Left Party proposal, which follows an Amnesty International report this year which found that violence against women increased almost 40 per cent during the 1990s and that 20 to 40 women are battered to death in Sweden each year.

'It must be clear to all we have a gigantic social problem and cost in men's violence towards women and we must discuss how we are going to pay for it,' said Gudrun Schyman, the party's former leader, and one of several female MPs who have signed the motion.

'We have to have a discussion so that men understand that they have a collective financial responsibility,' she added.

The Left Party says the idea of men collectively paying for the social costs of violence towards women is no different in principle than the fact that poor people pay less tax than rich people.

The Left Party, which has 30 members in the 349-seat Swedish parliament, supports the Social Democratic minority government, giving it enough votes to muster a majority.

In order to gauge what the tax should be, it is proposing to appoint a taskforce to establish the cost of treatment of women who are victims of domestic violence tax.

The Left Party motion, tabled by the party's feminist council, of which Schyman is a member, is unlikely to win a majority in parliament although many women MPs are expected to vote in favour of it.

Female members account for 45 per cent of the parliament, the highest proportion of women MPS in the world.

In 2003, 22,400 cases of violence against women were reported to police, but the country's Council for Crime Prevention said that the number could be higher because many women do not report abuse.

Sweden already has the highest taxes in Europe, with a person earning a monthly salary of 30,000 kronor ('2,280) paying 35 per cent tax.

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