The Swedish state on Monday made a mass apology to anyone who grew up in children’s homes or youth boarding facilities between 1920 and 1980 and was mistreated or abused there.

Speaker of the Swedish Parliament (Riksdagen) Per Westerberg conveyed the pardon. This happened during a special ceremony at Stockholm City Hall.

Among the 1,300 guests on Monday were Sweden’s Queen Silvia, government officials, political party representatives, hundreds of victims and their relatives.

Last year, 866 Swedes testified before a special Swedish Commission of Inquiry into childhood abuse and maltreatment at boarding schools in 196 municipalities. More than 60 percent of the witnesses have been sexually abused, 44 percent mention other physical violence. Some of the witnesses were treated badly in several ways, 12 percent were harassed purely mentally.

A quarter of a million Swedes spent one or more years in an orphanage between 1920 and 1995 as children or teenagers. That is why experts think that the actual number of victims is higher than the official investigation has been able to show, but they do not mention figures. A TV documentary in 2005 revealed large-scale abuses and prompted the government investigation. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (original published in Dutch on 21 November 2011)