Crisis centers nationwide have gone public with how Norwegian men have literally delivered their foreign wives to the crisis centers’ doorsteps. The men declare that they’re “finished” with the women, and then even contact immigration authorities in the hopes the women will lose their residence permission in Norway.
“It’s a disgusting attitude towards women,” Svein Gjerseth, leader of Krisesenteret (The Crisis Center) in Telemark, told Nowegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Thursday. Most of the women are from Thailand and the Philippines, and were brought to Norway by men who had promised them a good life, only to dump the women before they become eligible for permanent residence after three years in the country.
“Far too many of the women have also experienced a life with physicial and psychological violence when they move in with their Norwegian men,” Gjerseth said. “After a while they’re thrown out.” Many of the same men have then been known to travel back abroad to “find romance again.”
Gjerseth said that at Telemark’s crisis center in Skien alone they’ve taken in nearly one woman a month who’s been abandoned by her Norwegian husband. Tove Smaadahl, leader of the national Crisis Center Secretariat, told NRK that the situation is well-known at crisis centers all over the country.
One man, Smaadahl said, was internally called Leverandøren (literally, someone delivering goods) by the center’s staff. “He never identified himself,” Smaadahl told NRK, “but after descriptions from the women who were either married to him or his ‘sweetheart,’ they understood that it was the same man who in the course of a few years had sent four women to the center.”
Smaadahl confirmed “several” examples where the Norwegian men contacted immigration authority UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet), “to alert them that the women were no longer living with them, in the hopes their residence permission would be revoked.”
Abandoned spouses subject to deportation
Statistics from UDI show that from since the beginning of this year alone, 2,818 foreign residents have come to Norway to live with their Norwegian or Nordic partners. If the relationship ends in divorce, the foreign spouses are at great risk that they’ll have to travel back to their homelands, often with no jobs, homes or financial resources. That’s because the basis for their residence permission in Norway (marriage or family reunification) no longer exists.
If they can’t fulfill requirements for being in Norway on another basis, such as specific job skills needed by an employer, they’re subject to deportation. It’s not just poor women from outside Norway who can land in such difficult circumstances – many educated and resourceful foreigners who have given up careers and homes abroad have experienced the same.
Gjerseth stressed that not all Norwegian men are guilty of such exploitation, and that many foreign women who came to Norway with Norwegian partners have a good life. He decided to disclose the situation in Telemark, however, following what he viewed as the alarming freqency of such cases. He’s calling for stricter demands to be put on the Norwegian men, and for politicians to take up the cause of women who’ve been exploited in a social welfare state that prides itself on being an egalitarian society.
“I think the rules need to be tightened, and that the men must have greater obligations,” Gjerseth told NRK. “We can’t have a situation where they can just kick the women out or deliver them at our door. The women are left with nothing.”