A video showing a heavily pregnant black woman being removed from an underground train in Stockholm and being pinned onto a bench has caused outrage in Sweden in what many have described as a case of racial profiling.
The woman, who was with her 5-year-old daughter, was accused of travelling without a valid ticket and had grown angry when given a fine and asked to leave the train, according to transport officials.
In the video that has been widely shared on social media, the woman’s daughter is seen crying as she tries to hold on to her mother, who at this time was being dragged from the train at Hotorget metro station in central Stockholm before being pinned down on a bench.
“In these two videos you can see the victim dragged out of the train, her child taken from her and whilst she attempts to stand up she is held down,” blogger and activist Lovette Jallow, who posted footage of the incident on Instagram wrote.
Jallow, like many others, believed the incident was racially motivated and wondered if a white pregnant woman would have been treated that way.
The woman has since visited the hospital for treatment while the police investigate the incident as a case of assault as the woman was injured.
The transport company has told the BBC in a statement that it was also investigating the incident, even though its security officers were entitled to “reject or apprehend persons who are disturbing the order”.
“What we do know is that the woman was caught without a valid ticket in a ticket check and was given a penalty fare. She refused this and therefore she, according to our rules, was asked to leave the subway,” an SL spokesman said.
“She refused this too and when she was going to be escorted from the subway by our public security officers she started to scream and make resistance.”
The woman, who has been identified as Jeanine, is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo and worked at a beauty salon, reports the New York Times.
She was travelling with her daughter to the hospital due to contractions when the incident happened, the report added.
According to her, she had her travel card with her at the time but she could not find it. As of the time she took it out of her pocket, the transport officials had already issued a fine.
“I took the fine and threw it on the ground,” she said. “I was angry at myself for losing the card.”
She was subsequently ordered by the ticket controller to leave the train.
“I said, ‘Why do I have to get out?’”
“I wanted to go to the hospital because I was in pain.”
Security guards went ahead to pull her out of the train when it stopped at Hotorget Station.
“They took me by the arm very hard,” she said. “They forced me out. They put me on the bench, with my stomach down. One of them put their knee on my back and I lost my breath.
“I was afraid that my baby was going to die in my belly.”
Meanwhile, two security guards have been suspended over the incident pending further investigations. The woman, who still has bruises on her thighs, arms and back, should be having her baby on February 20.
Sweden has been famously known for its welcoming attitude towards refugees and for once having the most generous immigration laws in Europe.
This is changing following a rise in anti-immigrant sentiments across the country, as Swedes of African origin complain of being racially profiled and mistreated.