Women in the Church of Sweden have joined the #Metoo campaign under the hashtag #vardetljus ("Let there be light"). In total, 1,382 women, including Archbishop Antje Jackelén, have signed the petition acknowledging widespread harassment and abuse among priests and members of the congregation.
"We all see that enough is enough. The silence needs to be broken, the shame needs to be placed where it belongs. It's not ours to bear," the petition reads.
"I was subjected to abuse by a clergyman I sought spiritual care from. After a while, he began introducing all the more remarkable methods that implied that physical proximity would create a sense of security for me. It ended with his hands under my shirt," a woman wrote.
"I wish we could say that the church is free from such violations. But I also know that this is not the case," Jackelén said in a statement on the Church of Sweden website.
The #Metoo scandal has also affected the Swedish Royal Family, as a high-profile businessman and one of the Nordic-country's best-paid PR consultants hired to support Prince Daniel is now being investigated for sexual harassment and abuse.
Nevertheless, the man was recently invited to an official event at Haga Castle together with other members of the Swedish establishment. Incidentally, Crown Princess Victoria previously took a strong stance against sexual harassment by supporting the #Metoo campaign, the Aftonbladet tabloid daily reported.
The Swedish Academy, which distributes the Nobel Prize in literature, also had its reputation tarnished by a sex scandal, involving a man of power described as its "nineteenth member." There have been allegations that the man exploited his position to harass, extort, threaten, persecute and rape young women with literary ambitions. Apparently, harassment has happened within the academy for decades, without anyone attempting to stop it.
Former Left leader Lars Ohly, who has been mentioned in the #Metoo campaign and is currently under police investigation, argued that the problem lies within the "patriarchal society," implying that all men bear a certain responsibility. According to Ohly, the "not all men" argument is a "worthless defense" in the debate. A better reaction would be to say "me too," Ohly argued in an opinion piece in Svenska Dagbladet.
Thousands of women across Scandinavia have in recent weeks released trade manifestos laden with personal stories to protest widespread harassment and sexual abuse. Joint calls have been published by hundreds of actresses, singers, lawyers, politicians, opera singers, IT technicians and athletes. Even former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland admitted to having been sexually harassed in her youth, by a doctor who was ten years her senior.
"The reason for this was that the exposed people received a lot of attention in the beginning. It sort of became the start shot," media researcher Marie Grusell of the University of Gothenburg told the Finnish daily Hufvudstadsbladet. "From that perspective, it opened doors that otherwise may have remained closed," she added.
Ninni Carlsson, a PhD of the University of Gothenburg, argued that in order to fully understand the spread of #Metoo in Scandinavia, you have to go 40 years back in time, as the public outcry is firmly rooted in the women's movement of the 70s.