Mattias and Joel, Stockholm’s “Citizens of the Month”

After days of speculation about who was going to win the ‘Citizen of the Month’ vote in the ‘Stockholm City’ newspaper, the result came as a shock. Many believed the King would win, after en unprecedented media campaign around the time of his 60th birthday on 30 April. Another candidate was a popular singer Kajsa Grytt. The third and winning nomination was that of Mattias Bernhardsson and Joel Eriksson, members of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI).

Mattias and Joel had come to prominence in the media when, at the end of March, they had caught a notorious rapist in Jordbro, Haninge, (South Stockholm). They had been labelled heroes at the time.

They had indeed acted bravely and responsibly, as any person, including socialists, should do in these circumstances. This man had attacked women close to a school in Jordbro on two consecutive nights. When they saw him running away from the police, as they explained in the RS newspaper, Offensiv: “We looked at each other, and took off after him as if it was life or death. We took a shortcut through a park and caught him outside a garbage room”.

The result of the popularity poll was not just unexpected. The King got only 25% of votes from the 625,000 daily readers of the paper. Kajsa Grytt got just 4 per cent and Mattias and Joel received a massive 68%! This in itself is an indication of how high feelings are running on the issue of violence against women and the genuine appreciation of the prompt action of Mattias and Joel against a known rapist.

It came as a contrast to the war-like and sensational headlines in the media about a wave of rape cases, which always give the impression that nothing can be done. An increase in group rapes among youth shows the need to discuss and act against these problems. The mountain of pornography now available on the internet aggravates the situation where women are treated as a commodity and sex is associated with violence.

Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna campaigns against all forms of sexism and oppression of women in society. In the schools, together with Elevkampanjen (ISR Sweden), we have had campaigns against sexual harassment, including inside schools, and demanded more resources for dealing with the horrific problems that face women, young and old. We have campaigned for things like youth clubs to be open at night, for improved health care (i.e. including treatment of people who are mentally sick), for decent local transport and bright street-lighting.

Mattias Bernhardsson is the top candidate for RS in the September council elections in Haninge. He has been active on all these issues. He has expressed anger at the fact that in Haninge, despite the unfortunately extensive need for safe places for women to escape violent partners, there are only two women’s shelters.

“It is important to remember”, Mattias says, “That only a small proportion of rapes take place outdoors. Most are conducted indoors by men known personally to the women who are attacked. To turn the trend of increasing number of rapes will demand more than just better lights on the streets. We will continually campaign against all manifestations of the oppression and exploitation of women while conducting a joint, working class struggle to change society along socialist lines”.

Taken from Offensiv, the weekly paper of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (the CWI in Sweden) and the web-site www.socialisterna.org

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