(CNN)The bruises on Maria Árnadóttir’s physique were rather about a, ranging in shade from pale yellow to deep crimson.
Per court documents, the accidents were precipitated by Árnadóttir’s boyfriend throwing her spherical the room while searching to struggle her phone a ways from her after she threatened to name the police. For days after the attack, Árnadóttir struggled to breathe. At remaining, she ended up in the emergency room, the documents utter.
Speaking quietly in her house in the suburbs of Reykjavik, she knowledgeable CNN the person had attacked her sooner than, nonetheless never as viciously as he did on that occasion in July 2016. “I if truth be told belief I was as soon as dying. He was as soon as pulling me and throwing me spherical. I belief ‘I am going to die nowadays,'” she acknowledged.
Months later, she says she worked up the courage to head to the police, submitting photos of her accidents, medical notes, a list of witnesses to the violence and psychological abuse she was as soon as subjected to, as effectively as text messages from her alleged attacker, by then her ex-boyfriend, in which Árnadóttir says he admitted to the assault and threatened to allotment nude photos of her if she spoke up. A court filing comprises all of these documents.
Per the court documents, the person denied assaulting her, nonetheless admitted to sending the threat, although he acknowledged he never intended to have a look at up on it. CNN has reached out to the person’s authorized legitimate.
But for the police, that evidence was as soon as no longer satisfactory.
A year and half after she had pressed charges, Árnadóttir says officers knowledgeable her the case was as soon as being dropped because it would no longer lead to a conviction.
She later came all the intention in which through that was as soon as no longer factual. The case had no longer been dropped. As a replacement, the police failed to interview the accused and for that reason, the statute of limitation expired in their hands, based on the judicial authorities who later reviewed the case.
Árnadóttir is one among loads of girls collectively taking their authorities to the European Court docket of Human Rights over what they are saying is a misogynistic justice system that systematically violates the rights of victims of gender-based violence.
The weird and wonderful twist in the parable? These girls reside in Iceland, long notorious as the sphere’s most gender equal nation.
On paper, Iceland is a foremost blueprint to be a girl. For 12 years running, it has been topped the sphere’s high blueprint for gender equality by the World Economic Dialogue board.
It has world-leading equal pay and anti-discrimination regulations. Girls opt 47% of the seats in its Parliament and plot up 46% of the boards of Icelandic corporations.
Childcare is heavily subsidized and readily obtainable to all. Maternity healthcare is free.
But for Árnadóttir and masses other girls struggling to appreciate justice accomplished, Iceland’s portrayal as a feminist paradise is a a lot instruct from reality — a ways satisfactory to capture the nation to court.
The lawsuit, launched in March, was as soon as coordinated by loads of Icelandic NGOs, including Stígamót, a non-earnings that campaigns against domestic and sexual violence and offers counseling for survivors.
Steinunn Guðjónsdóttir, Stígamót’s spokesperson and fundraising manager, knowledgeable CNN the neighborhood reviewed a preference of up to date cases of alleged violence against girls that had been pushed apart by the police or prosecutors, and came all the intention in which through that the victims’ rights had allegedly been violated in loads of of them.
Guðjónsdóttir acknowledged these included examples the put evidence had been no longer notorious, statutes of limitation expiring thanks to lack of inch by the police, sufferer shaming and a total lack of transparency.
Guðjónsdóttir acknowledged there would possibly be composed a foremost hole between the legislation and the vogue or no longer it’s being implemented.
“The justice system appears to be like at rape as a if truth be told, very, very serious crime, by system of the punishment, nonetheless it does no longer receive any of the manpower and consideration. When there is a waste — which happens very every so often in Iceland — your total police power goes to review and or no longer it’s graceful a huge precedence. That is clearly no longer the case with rape,” she acknowledged.
Transparency is additionally a effort, Guðjónsdóttir acknowledged, declaring that below Icelandic legislation, victims wouldn’t comprise the most sharp to look their case files, this potential that they would possibly be able to no longer observe the progress of an investigation.
In an announcement to CNN, the Icelandic Ministry of Justice acknowledged that while “it has concluded that a particular mistake was as soon as made at some level of the investigation [of Árnadóttir’s case], the authorities’s belief is that the mistake does no longer meet the minimal stage of severity” to qualify as a breach of the European Conference on Human Rights.
The Icelandic Police didn’t suppose on the case, referring as an different to the Ministry of Justice.
The feminist paradise with a gender-based violence effort
Assassinate cases would possibly well also be rare in Iceland, nonetheless rapes must no longer.
Per a 2018 landmark watch into trauma, a quarter of Icelandic girls comprise skilled rape or tried rape over their lifetimes and spherical 40% were subjected to bodily or sexual violence. That number is seriously elevated than the global common — the World Successfully being Group says spherical 30% of girls worldwide were subjected to bodily or sexual intimate companion violence or non-companion sexual violence in their lifetime.
Unnur Anna Valdimarsdóttir and Arna Hauksdóttir, two public health experts and epidemiologists at the University of Iceland who performed the analysis, reached out to nearly all girls in Iceland. They ended up surveying extra than 30,000 of us — almost a third of the nation’s total feminine inhabitants, spread all the intention in which through rural and urban areas and representing a putrid-section of Icelandic society.
They admitted the implications of their watch came as a shock. “We were rather struck by the very high share of girls that comprise skilled either bodily or sexual violence at some level of their lifetime,” Hauksdóttir knowledgeable CNN.
“Americans had a laborious time believing that these are right numbers,” Valdimarsdóttir added. “The spontaneous response is de facto ‘40%?! No system!'”
“Even I comprise to admit that I didn’t want to think it myself,” she acknowledged. “And then I began to struggle through my friends and we started talking loads about it, and it sounds honest appropriate … when at your girlfriends and you capture 20 of them … I’d utter per chance eight of them comprise that abilities.”
Valdimarsdóttir and Hauksdóttir acknowledged the implications were particularly laborious to sq. with Iceland’s sturdy culture of gender equality.
“Iceland is a foremost blueprint to be a girl, we comprise got access to health care, childcare … training and to a range of issues that just about the total of us residing on this Earth invent no longer comprise … nonetheless we composed comprise these numbers,” Hauksdóttir acknowledged.
She acknowledged it’s that it’s seemingly you’ll deem that the very advances Iceland has made in gender equality would possibly well uncover the somewhat high preference of girls reporting violence.
“In societies that comprise scored high on gender equality, you are going to composed look very, very high figures [of violence] and or no longer it’s paradoxical to appreciate that, nonetheless the explanation would possibly want to assign with girls being very responsive to after they’re being violated in any system,” she acknowledged. “Is that the case in other countries? These numbers would possibly well also be nearer to the reality.”
The analysis printed one more being concerned thing — the percentage of girls who comprise skilled violence was as soon as very similar all the intention in which through all sections of Icelandic society. “Diverse backgrounds, a form of ranges of coaching, a form of ranges of earnings … so or no longer it’s no longer class associated,” Valdimarsdóttir acknowledged. “Then you definitely open to think: ‘Is this some roughly legislation of nature? Is this an very important phase of human conduct?'”
‘The generational curse’
One neighborhood that was as soon as no longer seriously bowled over by the implications of the trauma watch was as soon as Öfgar, a feminist collective that objectives to educate the public about violence and rape culture.
Basically, the neighborhood thinks the right numbers would possibly well also be even elevated.
“I invent no longer comprise a single lady friend that has no longer been sexually abused, confused, molested or in a toxic relationship,” Helga Ben, one among the activists, knowledgeable CNN at some level of an interview with the neighborhood in a cafe in central Reykjavik.
One after the other, the five girls described their experiences with date rape, compelled consent, sexual abuse and harassment. They spoke about the shame they skilled usually.
They name it the “generational curse.”
“The premise that Iceland is a feminist paradise has been shoved down our throats since we were little young of us: ‘Why are you so enraged? Function you look these girls in the third world countries? … You per chance can comprise it so staunch,'” acknowledged Ólöf Tara, one among the girls focused on the neighborhood.
“However the violence that girls were going through all throughout the years, we never had the vitality to raise our remark about it. Violence prospers in silence, because at the same time as you bid out, somebody connects alongside with your chronicle and realizes right here is their chronicle too and then they’ll work and open searching out for abet and spoil the pattern, because it is a generational pattern. I got it from my mom and my mom got it from her mom, delight in my grandmother from her mom, and I’m gonna raise it to my young of us if we invent no longer bid and focus on it,” Hulda Hrund Sigmundsdóttir added.
Öfgar has made it its mission to take grasp of with youthful of us, searching to spread awareness through funny nonetheless laborious hitting social media movies about concerns delight in sexual consent and date rape.
They additionally offer abet and make stronger to victims and comprise played an instrumental feature in the 2d wave of the #MeToo inch in Iceland.
The neighborhood acknowledged they realized they important to “assign something” after they kept receiving accusations of sexual violence and harassment about one explicit man, a neighborhood star in Iceland.
“We had survivors coming to us, talking about what he did and it was as soon as a 10-year-long span of violence against girls, against young girls and we belief this would possibly per chance’t walk on, he can not opt going on and doing what he’s doing,” acknowledged Tanja Ísfjörð, who was as soon as becoming a member of the assembly remotely, talking to the relaxation of the neighborhood from a notebook computer show screen screen propped up on a low coffee desk.
With out naming the person, Öfgar printed testimonials from extra than 20 girls who acknowledged they had been abused and confused by him, sparking a huge outcry all the intention in which throughout the nation. Extra victims came forward, nonetheless the neighborhood additionally faced a foremost backlash, including personal threats.
“We were accused of constructing up tales and searching to execute [the man], but the most easy ones who were canceled are the survivors,” Tanja Ísfjörð acknowledged.
The man was as soon as dropped from the road-up of a foremost cultural occasion in Iceland and alleges he suffered legitimate consequences following the accusations. He has denied wrongdoing and threatened to sue the neighborhood for damages. He has no longer been charged with any crime. CNN has over and over reached out to him for suppose, nonetheless didn’t hear help.
The revelations sparked a new wave of the #MeToo inch in Iceland, with loads of different men, including participants of the national soccer physique of workers, accused of sexual misconduct and coverup. The total executive committee of the Icelandic Soccer Association resigned in August after its chairman Gudni Bergsson denied the association obtained complaints of sexual violence — a utter that was as soon as later confirmed to be fraudulent. The alleged attacker, who was as soon as identified as Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, issued an announcement later admitting that he behaved inappropriately, nonetheless denying any violence.
The ‘upright system’ is no longer working
The backlash against Iceland’s #MeToo inch was as soon as one among the issues that sparked the lawsuit against the authorities.
“With #MeToo, girls are if truth be told popping out and naming the boys who raped them, despite the proven reality that they have not pressed charges against them, and masses folks are delight in: ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa! You would possibly no longer assign it delight in this, or no longer it is important to assign it the most sharp system,'” Guðjónsdóttir knowledgeable CNN.
“There would possibly be a range of rigidity on survivors to assign the ‘upright thing’ and press charges and test out to comprise the perpetrator convicted, nonetheless the ‘honest appropriate system’ is no longer working, the enormous majority of cases, they create no longer even plot it to the eradicate. So that they create no longer receive any judgment on whether or no longer the perpetrator is responsible or no longer. Or no longer it’s graceful a wide number,” she acknowledged.
This will seemingly capture loads of years for the European Court docket of Human Rights to put a name on the lawsuit. In the meantime, Árnadóttir’s fight goes on.
She says she has been identified with put up stressful stress disorder (PTSD), had to capture day off from work, and composed infrequently finds it hard to manage with day to day initiatives. She blames her mental health concerns on the judicial system, which she says has failed her.
“The Icelandic authorities acknowledges errors in the investigation of the case, resulting in its dismissal, resulting from the statute of limitation,” Fjalar Sigurðarson, the data officer at Icelandic Ministry of Justice, knowledgeable CNN in an announcement.
He acknowledged the clarification for the prolong in the investigation was as soon as “uncertainty” about which charges to bring and added that “having cases lapse in the care of the police is terribly irregular in legal procedures in Iceland.”
Whereas the case touching on the bodily assaults against Árnadóttir lapsed, her dilapidated companion was as soon as convicted of separate charges of threatening her in 2020. Per court documents, he admitted to sending the threats, nonetheless acknowledged he never intended to have a look at up on them. He was as soon as handed a 45-day suspended penal complex sentence and ordered to pay damages, based on publicly readily obtainable court documents. The nation’s National Court docket pushed apart his enchantment earlier this year, upholding the selection. CNN has reached out to the person’s authorized legitimate for suppose.
“This goes to sleek that the case was as soon as taken seriously within the judicial system,” Sigurðarson acknowledged.
Árnadóttir has poured all her energy into becoming an activist, talking up about her abilities and getting the glory of some of Iceland’s high officers. As a legislation legitimate herself, she has spoken about her case to the Minister of Justice, pushing for reforms.
The National Commissioner of Iceland’s Police, Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir has publicly apologized to her “for the hurt that she obtained by our system,” stressing that the police power is engaged on reforms and “adopting a sufferer-oriented come” in gender-based violence cases.
There is a momentum constructing up for reform — and for Árnadóttir, that’s what issues the most. “I if truth be told comprise a daughter, I if truth be told comprise friends, I invent no longer prefer any one to hope to struggle through what I did,” she acknowledged. “We want to change the system.”
Correction: This chronicle has been updated to elaborate the findings of an Icelandic discover which came all the intention in which through that 40% of girls in the nation had been subjected to bodily or sexual violence, despite the perpetrator’s identification.