May 26, 2010

Imagine Yourself in Her Shoes

You are accused of neglecting your only child. Social workers make these accusations against you in writing and in person. However, they are speaking and writing in Swedish. Your first language is English, with your knowledge of Swedish very limited. You want to know and understand the problem. You request translation, but your request falls upon deaf ears. The social workers either do not understand English, or they do not care that your Swedish is limited.

Your husband is Swedish and speaks both languages. Rather than supply you with a translation of the accusations against you, social services appear to expect your husband to translate their complaint for them. However, your husband is also being accused of the same allegations. He is just as upset, confused and alarmed as you.

Even so, because the Swedish workers do not provide translation, your husband does his best to tell you what they are saying. However, he cannot possibly answer all the questions you have of the social workers. Besides, you are due a direct answer from those accusing you. However, your accusers do not provide an answer in a language you fully understand. Instead, you find your needs to understand the accusations to be totally ignored by the social workers.

Eventually, the socials take your only child away, even when they've still not provided any written or spoken communications to you in a language you fully understand. Since your child has been removed, all spoken communications with the socials have been in Swedish, with the exception of two time when a translator was finally provided. Additionally, of the volumes of written communications from social services, it is estimated a mere ten percent have been translated into a language you can understand.

This is the place in which Annie Johansson has found herself. Annie is a native of India with English as her native tongue. Her husband, Christer, is a native of Sweden but understand and speaks English well enough for the two to meet, fall in love, marry and begin a family, only to have it ripped apart without a full understanding as to why. This is only part of the injustice Annie Johansson has suffered at the hands of Swedish social service workers.

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