Hege Storhaug

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Hege Storhaug
Hege Storhaug (205550).jpg
Hege Storhaug at a debate in 2015.
Born (1962-05-21) 21 May 1962 (age 54)
Arendal, Aust-Agder, Norway
Occupation Information director of Human Rights Service
Nationality Norwegian
Subject Women's rights, Islam, immigration, multiculturalism
Notable awards Southern Norway's Literary Prize, 2007[1]

Hege Storhaug (born 21 May 1962) is a Norwegian journalist, author and political activist. She has been noted since the 1990s for her criticism of Islam and immigration, and for her women's rights activism, highlighting Muslim women in particular.[2][3] Since 2002, she has been the information director of Human Rights Service, a foundation she co-founded with Rita Karlsen.

Formerly an active volleyball player, Storhaug is a certified athletic trainer with a degree from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and has highlighted eating disorders among female athletes. She has played on the Norwegian women's national volleyball team, and coached and played on teams that have won the Norwegian national championships.

Sports and early life[edit]

Storhaug was born in Arendal, and grew up on Hisøy.[4] She was an active volleyball player in her youth, and won the Norwegian Championship as part of the team Hisøy IL when she was fourteen and sixteen years old. When she was sixteen years old, she made her debut on the junior national team, as well as the senior national team.[5]

She started her education at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in 1984, and graduated as a certified athletic trainer in 1987.[2] From 1986 to 1987 she studied health and sports biology, and wrote a paper based on her mapping of the extent of eating disorders among female athletes. It was the first such mapping in Norway, and it brought considerable attention, including being on the first page of newspaper Dagbladet.[6] She spoke in the media about her own eating disorder as a young athlete, which led to major public debate about the problem in Norway. In the wake of this, she co-founded the Interest Group for Women with Eating Disorders,[6] and functioned as the press and information director of the organisation from 1987 to 1990.[2]

In 1990 Storhaug took part in a mock marriage with her then-girlfriend as a protest outside the Norwegian parliament building.[6] She is today married.[7][8]


Storhaug worked as a journalist for the left-wing newspaper Klassekampen from 1989 to 1990. She completed a degree in journalism at the Norwegian School of Journalism in 1992, after which she worked as a freelance journalist.[2] One of her earliest journalistic efforts, for Dagbladet in 1992, was the first report in Norway about the forced marriages of young Muslim women.[6] Before working with the story she adhered to left-wing anti-racist beliefs, and was shocked by her findings.[4] The report in turn led to the passing of a law banning forced marriages in Norway.[9] For further research she lived in Pakistan for two years in the mid-1990s, and wrote a book about her experience.[4] As of 2015 she has visited Pakistan seventeen times, and has several of her closest friends there.[4]

After the publication of her book Hellig tvang in 1998, Storhaug had a leading role in the production of two documentaries for Rikets tilstand and TV 2 that aired in October 1999 about forced marriages and honor killings in Norway, which had a major impact on Norwegian society.[9][10] She thereafter conceived and researched a documentary which revealed that girls in Norway were being subjected to female genital mutilation and that imams in the country supported this practice. The program, which aired on TV 2 in October 2000 caused a considerable outcry, not least because imams who condemned this practice in interviews were caught on hidden cameras openly expressing their approval and encouragement of the procedure.[6][11][12] In 2002, Storhaug released a report that described nine likely honor killings that had taken place in Norway by 2001.[13] The documentary Norske jenter omskjæres, about female genital mutilation won a SKUP diploma in 2000[11] and the Gullruten award for best documentary in 2001.[14]

Human Rights Service[edit]

In 2002 Storhaug was involved in the Brennpunkt documentary Barnebruder – en ulykkelig historie for state broadcaster NRK, which uncovered the importation of child brides into Norway.[15][16] The same year she co-founded and began as information director of the foundation Human Rights Service (HRS).[2] Storhaug was later, in 2004 accused of having exerted undue pressure on the girls she had worked with for her documentaries.[16] Among those who have praised Storhaug and HRS's work is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who in the first article she published as a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute wrote that while most non-governmental organizations in Europe "are embarrassingly silent" on the struggle for human rights for Muslim women and girls, "there is one in Norway that pays attention, Human Rights Service, run by a brave, determined woman, Hege Storhaug."[17]

Storhaug's 2006 book But the Greatest of These Is Freedom: On the Consequences of Immigration (title of the later English version), was praised by some critics and won the Southern Norway's Literary Prize. However, only a total of 929 votes were cast, and there were five books nominated for the prize.[1] A high-profile participant in media debates about forced marriage, honor killing, genital mutilation, Islam, and questions relating to the cultural impact and economic sustainability of large-scale immigration,[18] her research and outspokenness led her to become increasingly more controversial.[4][6]

In 2007 Storhaug was assaulted by her own home and beaten unconscious with blows to the head by an unknown assailant. She did not go public with the story until 2010, initially wanting to keep it private and fearing it could scare likeminded activists, until changing her mind after an attack against Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.[19]

Her book Islam, den 11. landeplage became one of Norway's biggest bestsellers during the autumn of 2015,[20][21] selling 20,000 copies in its first month with several new editions issued, despite being self-published and gaining little to none initial mainstream media coverage.[22][23] The same year she led online voting for the "Name of the Year" award of newspaper Verdens Gang by a wide margin, but fell short of winning the award following a final selective opinion poll.[20] Some including Gunnar Stavrum and Kjetil Rolness criticised the selection process of the newspaper, particularly that the final results were not publicly disclosed and a less favourable presentation of Storhaug in the poll.[24]

Published books[edit]


  • Chief researcher for the documentary Rikets tilstand: Norske jenter omskjæres, which won a SKUP diploma (2000) and Gullruten (2001)[11][14]
  • Southern Norway's Literary Prize (2007), for her book But the Greatest of These is Freedom[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Storhaug ble prisvinner". NRK (in Norwegian). 23 April 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Hege Storhaug". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). 30 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Haglund, Anniken (2008). "'For Women and Children!' The Family and Immigration Politics in Scandinavia". In Grillo, R. D. The Family in Question: Immigrant and Ethnic Minorities in Multicultural Europe. Amsterdam University Press. pp. 76–78. ISBN 9789053568699. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "- Det er helt psycho, og jeg blir så fortvilet". Nettavisen (in Norwegian). 20 December 2015. 
  5. ^ "Frihetens forpost". Bergens Tidende (in Norwegian). 26 April 2003. p. 39. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Gjerstad, Tore (30 October 2006). "Krigsklar". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "– Jeg er ikke islamofob, sier Storhaug". Blikk (in Norwegian). 13 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "Hege Storhaug: Myndighetene spiller langt på vei russisk rulett med Norge". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). 26 June 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Metoderapport for "Rikets tilstand"" (PDF). SKUP (in Norwegian). 25 January 2000. 
  10. ^ Wikan, Unni (2002). Generous Betrayal: Politics of Culture in the New Europe. University of Chicago Press. p. 230. ISBN 9780226896854. 
  11. ^ a b c "Støtter omskjæring". TV 2 (in Norwegian). October 2000. 
  12. ^ "- Jeg måtte bare gjøre det!". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). 5 October 2000. 
  13. ^ "Minst ni æresdrap i Norge". Bergens Tidende (in Norwegian). 24 January 2002. 
  14. ^ a b "Gullruten". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). 26 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Barnebruder – en ulykkelig historie". NRK (in Norwegian). 6 May 2002. 
  16. ^ a b "Bryter med sine allierte". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). 28 February 2004. 
  17. ^ Ali, Ayaan Hirsi (26 August 2006). "Women the Future of Freedom". American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "Hege Storhaug vil stoppe all innvandring til Europa og avvikle Flyktningkonvensjonen". Abc nyheter (in Norwegian). 14 August 2015. 
  19. ^ "Har vært taus om overfall". Dagen (in Norwegian). 14 January 2010. 
  20. ^ a b "Tjener millioner på omstridt bok". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). 8 December 2015. 
  21. ^ "Debatt om islam: Nekter å godta at vår tid er forbi". Stavanger Aftenblad (in Norwegian). 9 December 2015. 
  22. ^ "Hege Storhaug om egen boksalgsuksess: Jeg traff tidsånden". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). 22 December 2015. 
  23. ^ "Norsk islamkritiker har solgt 17.000 bøker på under én måned". Finansavisen (Hegnar.no) (in Norwegian). 5 December 2015. 
  24. ^ "Hege Storhaug ikke årets navn". Nettavisen (in Norwegian). 19 December 2015.