A total of 47 percent of domestic violence happens in immigrant families, national broadcaster NRK concluded following a review of all cases in which children testified against their closest relatives from March to May 2018.
Of the 135 children involved in cases of domestic violence, 63 were born to immigrant families. Most of them had come from Asia and Africa, with Pakistan and Afghanistan in the lead. Among the European countries, Lithuania produced the most abusers.
Mia Myhre, a researcher at the National Knowledge Center on Violence and Traumatic Stress, emphasized that immigrants' overrepresentation was highest in cases involving physical abuse. According to her, some of the reasons for this might include a higher tolerance for violence in their respective home cultures, the traumatic experiences of war and other crises or the prevalence of a so-called "honor culture" that demands strict social control.
Ragnhild Bjørnebekk, a law professor at the Police College, found the figures disturbing, yet ascribed the overrepresentation to cultural and legal differences.
"Many of the individuals come from weak states with authoritarian dictatorships, where much of the power is vested in the family and the kin. They don't have all these organizations we have," Bjørnebekk said. She also mentioned "honor culture" and war-related mental disorders as some of the underlying reasons and suggested psychological examinations for all new arrivals.
The immigration spokesman of the right-wing Progress Party, Jon Engen-Helgheim, called the figures "worrying, but unfortunately not surprising." He stressed that his party has long been aware of the family violence persistent in immigrant communities.
Engen-Helgheim stressed that the Progress Party has long proposed measures to weed out the problem but has consistently lacked the support of other parties.
"We want mandatory health checks that could reveal violence. The other parties don't want this, because they want to protect parents. We should also become more adept at instructing all public servants who are in contact with children and young people how to reveal and report all forms of domestic violence, social control and religious coercion," Engen-Helgheim said.
Elise Bjørnebekk-Waagen of the Labor Party stressed that many parents consider violence to be an integral aspect of bringing up children, thus passing this attitude to their own children, and called for extra measures to counter this contagious phenomenon.
"Everyone who works with children, that is, kindergarten and school staff, teachers and nurses, must know exactly what to look for and respond promptly when violence is discovered," Bjørnebekk-Waagen said.
In 2017, Norway's immigrant population totaled 883,751; they accounted for nearly 17 percent of the country's population.
According to Norwegian law, the concept of domestic violence implies all forms of maltreatment happening within the four walls of one's home. Both physical and sexual assault are included, as is mental abuse.