Every year Swedish society produces a new generation of threatened women who can testify to the lack of legal rights and the lukewarm interest shown by the police and other authorities. Evidence of the lack of legal rights for Swedish women is interesting in this context. In the debate about honor killings it is claimed specifically that legislation in Muslim countries (as distinct from the culturally advanced legal situation in Sweden) favors and legitimizes violence on the part of men.
This systematic violence directed at women—for systematic violence is exactly what it is, and what it would be called if it affected to a similar extent trade unionists, or Jews, or the disabled—is never regarded as a “cultural problem” in Sweden. Indeed, one could ask if it is regarded as a problem at all, apart from in a strictly legal context. The violent treatment of women is illegal, and hence the perpetrator can reckon with some form of stiff reprisals after any such acts are committed.
But there is practically nothing available written by a Swedish social polemicist in which the writer tries to explain the murder of Melissa from a Swedish cultural-anthropological or broader cultural perspective. Such argumentation is reserved exclusively for “immigrants,” “Kurds” or “Muslims,” who can be studied in relation to Swedish culture.
It is of course impossible to compare the violent treatment of women and suggest that one murder is more cruel than another. In that respect Fadime and Melissa were sisters. An objection frequently made by supporters of a “cultural-anthropological” approach—and the argument is legitimate to a certain extent—is that a fundamental difference between the murders of Melissa and Fadime is that few Swedish murders are encouraged by relations, close family and close friends. This, it is argued, is the difference that makes the murder of Fadime a culturally influenced “honor killing” and the murder of Melissa a run-of-the-mill Swedish affair.
But this thesis is not completely true either. Surprisingly often—as was the case in the Melissa murder—violence is encouraged by individuals in the killer’s close circle of friends. It is difficult to find any other explanation for the willingness of friends of Swedish women-murderers to assist in tidying up the scene of the crime and in disposing of the body.
Excerpted from The Expo Files by Stieg Larsson. Copyright © 2014 by Stieg Larsson. Excerpted by permission of MacLehose Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.