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Sweden pays out first compensation to abused foster kids

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Sweden said Friday it had begun paying out 250,000 kronor (30,000 euros, $39,000) in compensation to Swedes who suffered abuse as foster children between 1920 and 1980, after rampant physical and sexual abuse was revealed.

A first group of 15 people were granted compensation on Friday.

They had all been subjected to "serious forms of abuse or neglect... for example repeated sexual abuse or systematic physical abuse while in an orphanage or foster care," the head of the Swedish state's newly established Compensation Committee, Goeran Ewerloef, said in a statement.

The committee was created after a 2011 government-commissioned report found that many children in foster care had suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuse and recommended that the state pay out compensation in "recognition of society's betrayal of the victims of neglect and as a recognition of their suffering."

According to the author of that report, Kerstin Wigzell, between 2,000 and 5,000 people still alive were foster children during the period 1920-1980.

The committee said Friday it had so far received some 2,200 requests for compensation. But it stressed that not all victims would be financially compensated.

"All forms of abuse and neglect of children are of course unacceptable. But the law is very clear, the compensation will only be granted to those people who were subjected to the most serious forms of abuse or neglect," Ewerloef said.

Applicants have until the end of 2014 to seek compensation.

The 2011 report noted that many children in the care of the state still faced "serious neglect to an unacceptable extent".

Neighbouring Norway's parliament decided in 2005 to offer compensation to people who had been neglected and abused while in foster care of up to 200,000 kroner (26,500 euros, $34,400), although combined with compensation at a municipal level some former foster children reportedly received more than one million kroner.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130322/sweden-pays-out-first-compensation-abused-foster-kids