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Five million SEK for research on children's rights in custody disputes

Four portrait photos
Anna Lundberg, Anna Sonander, Rustamjon Urinboyev, and Monika Lindbekk.

The grant enables a study of how children's rights are understood and made use of in custody cases in three countries with different legal cultures.

The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte) grants the Sociology of Law Department almost five million SEK (€420,000) for the project "The dynamic life of Child Rights in three legal cultures. A comparative analysis of child custody cases". Professor Anna Lundberg leads the project, which involves researchers Anna Sonander, Rustamjon Urinboyev and Monika Lindbekk.

"It is very exciting that we have the opportunity at the Sociology of Law Department to carry out this project, says Lundberg. "The research team has a unique expertise through language skills and will be able to contribute to critical child rights research and hopefully contribute to a nuanced social debate on children's equal access to rights."

The research will deepen knowledge of how social workers, judges and other professionals involved in custody cases understand and apply children's rights and how this affects broader social developments. One part of the project studies how legal, religious and social norms shape professionals' understanding of rights. The study compares custody cases in three countries with different legal cultures: Sweden, which has a typical Western legal culture; Egypt, characterised by Sharia law; and Uzbekistan, a hybrid of Soviet, Western and Islamic legal cultures.

Child rights is a central educational and research area at the Sociology of Law Department. Since Sweden ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, the department's researchers have studied how it has affected the work of government officials in relation to children's living conditions.

"The Convention on the Rights of the Child leaves room for discretion and gives professional groups great influence on the practical meaning of children's rights and how they are considered in custody cases," says Lundberg. "In this context, it is important to examine both the practices of those who perform specialised legal tasks and social factors that affect a broader understanding of children's rights and conditions."

The research project will run for three years, starting in 2024.