Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape carries a maximum penalty of 16 years in prison. Judges typically imposed sentences of one to three years. The law does not explicitly address spousal rape. Activists continued to complain that the burden of proof in rape cases was too heavy and discouraged victims from reporting acts of rape and authorities from prosecuting them. The government did not respond formally to these concerns.
According to national police statistics, 180 rapes were reported in 2013, the most recent data available. According to the latest available information from the State Prosecutor’s Office, in 2013 prosecutors brought 16 cases to trial and obtained a conviction in fourteen at the district court level. Fifteen of the 16 cases were appealed to the Supreme Court, which confirmed convictions in eight of them, while seven cases remained pending in the Supreme Court. In 2012 prosecutors obtained convictions in 18 of the 35 cases that went to trial (two cases remained pending in the Supreme Court and one on the district court level).
While the law prohibits domestic violence, violence against women continued to be a problem. The penalties can range from a fine to 16 years in prison, depending on the type of violence committed. In addition the law permits judges to increase the sentences of persons who commit violence against persons with whom they had a domestic relationship or other close bond. There were no domestic violence cases in which judges actually handed down stronger sentences, and one respected activist expressed concern that sentences were too mild and too few.
Law enforcement agencies reported 229 cases of domestic quarrelling and 349 cases of domestic violence to the State Prosecutor’s Office in 2013, the most recent data available. A large majority of victims historically declined to press charges or chose to forgo trial, in part to avoid publicity. Some local human rights monitors attributed the underreporting of domestic violence and sex crimes to the infrequency of convictions and to traditionally light sentences. In the few cases of domestic violence that went to court, the courts often continued to base sentences on precedent and rarely made full use of the more stringent sentencing authority available under the law. In 2013, the most recent year for which data were available, 11.4 percent of the clients of the Counseling and Information Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence pressed charges.
Victims of domestic violence can request police to remove perpetrators physically from the home for up to four weeks at a time. Police can also impose a 72-hour restraining order to prevent the abusers from coming into proximity with the victim, and courts can extend this restraining order for up to a year. The law entitles victims of sex crimes to a lawyer to advise them of their rights and to help them pursue charges against the alleged assailants.
In 2013 a total of 134 women sought assistance at the rape crisis center of the National University Hospital of Iceland, and 125 women sought temporary lodging at the country’s shelter for women, mainly because of domestic violence. In 2013 the shelter offered counseling to 225 clients.
The government helped finance the Women’s Shelter, the Counseling and Information Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence, the rape crisis center of the national hospital, and other organizations that assisted victims of domestic or gender-based violence. In addition to partially funding such services, the government provided help to immigrant women in abusive relationships, offering emergency accommodation, counseling, and information on legal rights.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C. During the year there were no reports of FGM/C performed in the country.
Sexual Harassment: Two laws prohibit sexual harassment. The general penal code prohibits sexual harassment and stipulates that violations are punishable by imprisonment for up to two years. The law on equal status defines sexual harassment more broadly as any type of unfair or offensive physical, verbal, or symbolic sexual behavior that is unwanted and affects the self-respect of the victim, and is continued despite a clear indication that the behavior is undesired. The law requires employers and organization supervisors to make specific arrangements to prevent employees, students, and clients from becoming victims of gender-based or sexual harassment. Victims of harassment can report incidents to the Complaints Committee on Equal Status. The law requires only employers with 25 or more employees to provide their employees information on the legal prohibitions against sexual harassment in the workplace. According to national police statistics, 56 sexual harassment complaints were reported in 2013, the most recent data available. According to the latest available information from the State Prosecutor’s Office, in 2013 prosecutors brought four cases to trial and obtained convictions in two at the district court level. One of these cases was appealed to the Supreme Court, where it remained pending at year’s end.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children; to have the information and means to do; and to attain the highest standard of reproductive health free from discrimination, coercion, and violence.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men, including under the family, labor, property, and inheritance laws. The law states that employers and unions should work towards gender equality in the labor market, especially in managerial positions, and that employers should work towards declassifying jobs as primarily female- or male-oriented. The Center for Gender Equality (CGE) reported that many more men than women were in managerial positions (see section 7.d.).
Despite laws that require equal pay for equal work, a pay gap existed between men and women. Using Eurostat’s methodology, Statistics Iceland published a report in May showing the gender pay gap amounted to 19.9 percent overall, with 19.9 percent in the private sector and 15 percent in the public sector. The survey did not take into consideration factors such as type of profession, education, age, and length of employment. In September a salary survey conducted by the Association of Academics showed the gender pay gap to be nearly 9 percent. In September a salary survey commissioned by the Union of Public Servants showed the gender pay gap to be 10.3 percent among the union’s membership when taking into account working hours, education, age, number of persons supervised, type of profession, type of sector, and length of employment.
The government-run CGE promoted gender equality and provided counseling and education on gender equality to national and municipal authorities, institutions, companies, individuals, and nongovernmental organizations. The minister of social affairs and housing appoints members of the Complaints Committee on Equal Status, which adjudicates alleged violations of the law. The minister also appoints members of the Equal Status Council, drawn from national women’s organizations, the University of Iceland, and labor and professional groups. The council makes recommendations for equalizing the status of men and women in the workplace.
As of November 7, the Complaints Committee on Equal Status ruled that the law on equal status was violated three times. Two cases involved favoritism towards female applicants over male applicants at a preschool and the Icelandic Police Academy. The third case involved a compensation package that favored a male employee over a female employee holding a similar position at the Kopavogur municipal offices.