Gender-based Violence and the Nordic Paradox:

When things are not what they seem – A short critical reflection


  • Mascha Wiechmann



nordic paradox, violence against women, gender based violence, intimate partner violence, gender equality


Intimate partner violence against women (IPVAW) is a long-standing and global phenomenon, that is considered, both public health and social problem which seems difficult to tackle (Gracia et al., 2019; Wemrell et al., 2021). Although some research suggests that gender equality plays an important role in reducing IPVAW (Gracia et al., 2019; Wemrell et al., 2021), the so-called Nordic Paradox – a situation where seemingly the most gender equal states, i.e., Nordic countries (including, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland) report the highest numbers of IPVAW – appears to contradict this supposition (Gracia & Merlo, 2016). To date, there is no agreement as to why, and whether, this is the case. In this short paper, I shall review three academic articles that aim to address this contradiction, focusing on their methodologies and limitations.


In this essay, firstly, I will discuss how I approached the literature search. Secondly, I will present an overview of IPVAW and the Nordic paradox. Thirdly, I will discuss Gracia and colleagues (2019) and Permanyer and Gomez-Casillas's (2020) analysis, which are based on the same survey (FRA, 2014). Fourthly, I will examine the chosen literature and lastly, I will consider whether, and if so to what extent, high gender equality score and violence against women go hand in hand.

Author Biography

Mascha Wiechmann

Master student
Department of Social Studies, University of Stavanger


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EIGE (2019). Gender Equality Index 2019. Sweden. European Institute for Gender Equality. [Accessed 9 Feb 2022].

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Gracia, E., Martín-Fernández, M., Lila, M., Merlo, J., & Ivert, A.-K. (2019). Prevalence of intimate partner violence against women in Sweden and Spain: A psychometric study of the 'Nordic paradox'. PloS one, 14(5).

Gracia, E., & Merlo, J. (2016). Intimate partner violence against women and the Nordic Paradox. Social Science & Medicine, 157, 27–30.

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Permanyer, I., & Gomez-Casillas, A. (2020). Is the 'Nordic Paradox' an illusion? Measuring intimate partner violence against women in Europe. International Journal of Public Health, 65(7), 1169–1179.

Shannon, G., Jansen, M., Williams, K., Cáceres, C., Motta, A., Odhiambo, A., Eleveld, A., & Mannell, J. (2019). Gender equality in science, medicine, and global health: Where are we at and why does it matter? The Lancet, 393(10171), 560–569.

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How to Cite

Wiechmann, M. (2022). Gender-based Violence and the Nordic Paradox:: When things are not what they seem – A short critical reflection. Journal of Comparative Social Work, 17(2), 79–86.