March 8th was International Women’s Day.
I am republishing my series on Great Swedish Women, past and present: women with strength and passion, women with a voice, women who create change.
For seven days, one per day. I hope you want to join me in celebrating them.
Part 2 – Swedish lawyer and prosecutor Elisabeth Massi Fritz.
On 24 June 1999, a 19 year old woman by the name of Pela Atroshi was murdered in a honour-related crime. The murder occured when she was visiting her family in Irak. Killed by her two uncles and her father, the crime was witnessed by Pela’s mother Fatima and sister Breen. The case was concluded with life time sentences for the two uncles. Pela’s father lives in Irak, where Pela is buried in an unmarked grave for bringing dishonour to her family.
In the court, in Sweden, Breen testified against her uncles which led to the conviction. She was represented by lawyer Elisabeth Massi Fritz. After this case, Elisabeth Massi Fritz became known as one of Sweden’s leading lawyers and prosecutors, and Sweden’s only lawyer specialising in honour crimes. She stands up for the victims of crime, many of them women, and is an active contributor in the debate against honour crimes in Sweden.
Born in Motala, Sweden, to Christian Syrian parents, Elisabeth Massi Fritz personally gained insight into honour culture as she was not allowed to have a boyfriend or to move away to study. At the age of 19, she defied her family and moved to Stockholm to study law.
Today, she runs a legal firm where she employs only female staff and where they specialise in defending the victims of crime and prosecuting the perpetrator. She has worked on many high profile cases, such as the rape cases against plastic surgeon Carl-Åke Troilius and the Chief of Police Göran Lindberg, both of which resulted in prison sentences for the accused.
In 2017, she was one of the front-runners in the Swedish MeToo movement and for the change of the Sexual Crime Act in 2018. (Which was changed to a law of consent).
Elisabeth Massi Fritz continues to fight injustice and is the champion of the victim of crime.