Norway’s rich midnight sun hides darkness

Darkness hidden behind beauty (Marco Cristofori)


According to a recent report by Instant Offices, an international company for office advice, approximately 900 million individuals worldwide plan on permanently relocating from their home country.

Apparently, a growing number of disillusioned souls are in search of different careers, better remuneration, and an improved work-life balance.

Where should they go?

The report tries to answer the question. By conducting an analysis and evaluation of high GDP nations, considering factors such as working hours, annual leave, equality, happiness, parental leave, and more, the analysts were able to rank the top countries in the world for employment opportunities.

The winner? Norway.

The Nordic nation is considered the ideal destination for individuals who prioritize happiness in their professional lives.

Norway excels in various aspects that contribute to overall contentment, such as GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, and the freedom to make life choices.

It is also in the happy position of not belonging to the European Union but being a member of the European Single Market.

In contrast to countries like Turkey, Argentina, and Mexico, where individuals work an average of 45 hours per week, Norwegians enjoy a shorter workweek of less than 35 hours. If you happen to be someone who cares about LGBTQIA+ rights, then, according to the report, Norway is the best place to work.

It can be quite challenging for parents, particularly mothers with young children, to balance their work and family responsibilities. However, in Norway, mothers have access to generous paid maternity leave, which enables them to take a break without any financial setbacks.

Additionally, for ambitious women aiming to advance in their careers, Norway is said to provide ample opportunities for professional growth and success.

But, before you go booking a one-way flight to Oslo, we need to discuss something not in the report. We must discuss Norway’s dark side.

Although the country is renowned for its dedication to equality in the workplace, it has a high rate of violence against women. This includes domestic violence. Twenty-seven percent of women in Norway – far above the EU average – have been the victims of domestic violence.

Rather incredibly, roughly one in four Norwegian women have been raped during their lifetime.

More specifically, 50 percent of women report having experienced rape through force or coercion before they were 18.

Alarmingly, 5 percent of females report being raped before the age of 13, and by an individual who was at least five years their senior.

In contrast, four per cent of males have experienced a serious sexual assault.

Although both men and women in Norway may encounter violence from other men, women are disproportionately affected, especially when it comes to severe physical violence from a current or former partner.

In other words, the boss who professes his dedication to equality in the boardroom may not be quite as egalitarian once he gets home.

Also, although there has been a 0.6-liter decline in alcohol consumption within the EU over the last decade or so, there has been a significant increase in Norway.

Approximately 80 percent of incidents involving domestic violence are connected to drug usage, listing alcohol as a drug.

In Oslo, the nation’s capital, cocaine use is at an all-time high, with an increasing number of teenaged students now using arguably the most potent and devastating stimulant on the planet.

Norway’s nasty side must be viewed through a broader lens.

The most recent Gender Equality Index notes that in Finland, Norway’s Nordic neighbour, 53 percent of women who have been in a relationship have experienced violence from an intimate partner during their adult lives.

Specifically, 34 percent have encountered physical violence or sexual violence, while 50 percent have endured psychological violence. Additionally, around half of employed women in Finland, supposedly the happiest country in the world, have faced sexual harassment in the workplace.

In fact, every one of the Nordic countries struggles with violence against women, hence the term the “Nordic paradox.”

Although suicide rates are declining in most European countries, this is not the case in Norway.

Last year, the journalist Bård Amundsen wrote a sobering piece discussing this very fact. A land of just 5.5 million people, Norway witnesses an annual average of 650 suicides. The median age of those who succumb to suicide, noted Amundsen, is 47 years (two-thirds of these people are men).

In comparison to other European nations, Norway and the Nordic countries have a higher number of women taking their own lives.

The impact of suicide extends way beyond the individuals involved, according to Amundsen, affecting approximately 6,500 survivors and close relatives each year.

Among this group, researchers have observed a higher prevalence of post-traumatic stress reactions, depression, and anxiety compared to the general population. Additionally, there exists a heightened sense of shame among those left behind.

Norway is a beautiful country with much to offer. However, one must also acknowledge that it is not a utopia, where everyone lives in a state of equality-oriented bliss. The midnight sun hides darkness.