When this bunch of Somali mums saw the increasing crimes in their Stockholm neighbourhood called Rinkeby, they took matters into their own hands.
During the day, they go on with their duties and at night, they patrol the streets to make sure it is safe and to protect the youth, a documentary by Al Jazeera revealed.
The group was formed in 2015 in response to the increased deadly shooting between the youth. Rinkbey has been termed as a ‘no-go’ and crime-ridden zone by some of Sweden’s far-right politicians and a number of media outlets because it is home to many immigrants.
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In 2015, there was a number of retaliation killings of young men aged 17-19. These killings forced many people to leave the area for safer spaces.
For Iman, the president of the group, the solution was not to leave but to form a night patrol group. The death of two young men familiar to the women in the group to pushed them to join hands and help the young men in the area.
“This is not a healthy environment for kids to grow up in. But we must keep thinking [about] how to improve it and better the environment for them. That is the main reason for our night patrol: to show the youth that we care about them.” she said.
The mothers check a number of places during their patrol including empty schoolyards and parks. According to Iman, patrolling the streets allows them to establish patterns and trends that could lead to crime. It also allows them to have conversations with these youth.
“We talk to the young people. We don’t call the cops on them. We …become their friends… Most of the time they want to talk and to feel needed.”
This is an approach that Imam advises the police to use for them to make headway with the youth. Despite the heavy presence of police, Rinkeby does not have a police station and plans to build one has been shelved as construction workers do not feel safe in the area.
There have been constant struggles between immigrants and the police, with many complaining of racial profiling- something Iman says hurts the young men and women in the neighbourhood.
“A lot of them feel part of Sweden. But the older they get, the more disappointed they become. These youths are part of this society, this is their country, too.”
One of the main challenges the women face is lack of support from the state.
“All we get is praise from everyone. But praise won’t take us far without the support from the state,” Fahimo, a nursing student and one of the mothers said, adding that many people do not understand exactly what they are doing.
They also face constant dismissal, with many people reminding them that they are mothers and should stay at home with their children. For the media, the dismissal comes in the form of opting for outsiders to comment on the area instead of talking to the people living in Rinkeby, including the women.
The documentary comes at a time when Sweden is dealing with the immigration issue. After the polls on Sunday, the anti-immigration right-wing emerged as a strong force. The party not only wants to freeze immigration, it also wants to leave the European Union.