Swedish girls suffer widespread harassment.
A new report from Swedish researchers shows every third young Swede has been subjected to repeated harassment, threats or violence over the past year, and that six percent of young girls have been raped. The report further shows that there are large differences between how girls and boys are affected from violence in society. "Girls are more exposed to sexual violence, while boys are more exposed to physical violence," Helena Blom, one of the researchers in Sundsvall said. Over 2,000 young girls and almost 1,000 young men who paid a visit to one of nine selected youth clinics in the spring of 2007 were included in the study. The young people were given a series of questions to respond to describing their experiences of violence and grade the level of severity. The survey showed that six percent of girls had experienced the most serious sexual offence - rape. The research has been conducted in collaboration with Umeå University and the National Center for Knowledge on Men's Violence Against Women (NCK).

The Swedish budget.
Will your economy get any better next year? Dagens Nyheter polled its readers. 57% said yes, 35% said no, and 8% weren’t sure. Taking a closer look at the budget bill, which was presented by the government to the Riksdag recently, it looks like Sweden’s unemployment will climb above 11%, The budget is designed to lift Sweden out of what Anders Borg, the Minister of Finance, calls “a historic crisis”. "We are trying to limit damage from the crisis by taking forceful action to promote jobs and enterprise and by providing support to everyone who has been severely hit by unemployment," Borg said as he formally presented the bill to parliament. In his presentation, Borg stood by the government's outlook of a 5.2 percent contraction of the export-dependent economy this year, "the weakest growth performance in a single year since World War II." Growth of 0.6 percent was seen for 2010, before a robust return of 3.1 percent in 2011 and 3.8 percent in 2012. But unemployment was seen rising to 8.8 percent this year, 11.4 percent in 2010 and 11.6 percent in 2011, before falling back to 10.9 percent in 2012. The budget bill includes 32 billion SEK ($4.62 billion) in stimulus measures for 2010 and 24 billion SEK for 2011. The 2010 measures include 10 billion SEK in income tax cuts aimed at encouraging more Swedes to work instead of living off of generous state subsidies. Since coming to power in late 2006, the government has made the fight against unemployment its main objective. But instead of declining, Sweden's unemployment rate has risen, from 5.7 percent in August 2006 to 8.0 percent in August 2009.

Finding happiness.
It’s easier than you think. A columnist for Swedish Metro, Johan Norberg, has just released a book about happiness called “Den eviga matchen om lyckan – ett idéhistoriskt referat”. So, what is happiness and how do we attain it? Says Norberg: “You cannot change the situations around your life, but you can change how you feel. How you think, what habits you have and how you decide to steer your attention in your daily life. The latter is something you really can influence and change yourself. I believe we are each the architect of our own fortune.” He adds that we tend to get happier when we make more money but that kind of happiness quickly evaporates. If a person feels safety and freedom in his or her life, then other things, not money, becomes more important. What’s paramount is how we define happiness. According to Norberg it’s about time we make it less dramatic. “Happiness doesn’t have to mean ecstatic and total joy, even though of course that’s great when it feels like that, but happiness can mean the peace and joy one feels with being at home where one is and with what one does.”

Nikolaj for every man.
The Swedish menswear label Nikolaj d’Etoiles has so far been known for making really expensive luxurious clothes. Now, they are going for a more affordable approach. With their cheaper line Nikolaj by Nikolaj d’Etoiles, the price tag is less luxurious. “We used to work solely with Italian textiles, however, now we use mostly Portuguese and Turkish fabrics,” says designer Sandra Karlsson. “We also used chinchilla before, whereas now we’re using cotton and silk blends.” Karlsson notes that what sells in countries like France, Italy and Spain, is not necessarily popular in Sweden. “Shiny fabrics, for instance. They like it over there, but Swedes do not.” She adds that the slim silhouette will still be seen for fall, and that the colors will be dark. www.nikolajdetoiles.com

Skål! – my life with alcohol.
Gudrun Schyman, the Swedish politician, first spoke publicly about her problems with alcohol in 1996. Now, we can partake in her story again via a new book by Ann Thörnblad called “Skål! 14 berättelser – hur det var, vad som hände och hur det är nu” (Skål! 14 stories – how it was, what happened and how it is now). It took time, Schyman says in the book, before she could say the words “I am an alcoholic.” She did that while recovering at Nämndemansgården, a center for alcohol- and drug treatment. Schyman talks openly about the guilt she felt towards her children for putting them through her problems, and how she overcame that guilt through a meeting with a young man at the center. “His mother was an alcoholic and he still loved her, in me that planted a seed that perhaps my children would be willing to forgive me. I used to view alcoholism as an imperfection in our welfare.” Today, she says, she feels better: “I have chosen life, and that is a big thing. That choice is something I carry with me, even during the days when I feel weak and sorry for myself. I no longer feel a need to escape, and I no longer feel vulnerable. I live with the different emotions of daily life and I am always present. By choosing life, you have to accept they way it is, even if at times it is hard.