In its first (baseline) evaluation report on Iceland, the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) welcomed the comprehensive action taken over the past decades to advance women’s rights and gender equality through action plans, legislative measures and numerous promising practices.
These actions include the introduction of a consent-based definition of rape and sexual violence, the creation of a separate criminal offence of violence in a close relationship and the Act on the Protection of Sexual Privacy, including provisions to counter digital sexual violence. Iceland has also had a pioneering role in teaching gender equality through the education system and leading in reducing the gender pay gap. GREVIO commends the authorities for setting up “one-stop shop” models for children (Barnahus) and family justice centres for adults (Bjarkarhlíð and Bjarmahlíð), offering holistic services for victims of sexual and domestic violence under one roof.
However, GREVIO notes areas where more efforts are needed to ensure the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).
GREVIO urges the Icelandic authorities to set up a helpline that operates around the clock, ensure funding for NGOs providing specialist support services, and designate a national co-ordinating body for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the policies and measures taken.
In addition, GREVIO notes that while the Icelandic authorities have focused their attention on victims of sexual violence, sexual harassment and domestic violence, women victims of other forms of violence, such as stalking, crimes related to “honour”, forced sterilisation, forced marriage and female genital mutilation have been given little to no attention. Migrant women, women with disabilities, women in prostitution or women with addiction issues, do not always find a place in the current system of service provision.
GREVIO carried out an evaluation visit to Iceland, which took place from 28 March to 1 April 2022.