Our Covering International Music Fests: Iceland class is a wrap but the memories live on! Hear our full radio documentary and explore our class blog (listen to one of the cultural story segments from the final radio documentary below). Also check out our daily blogs, live reviews from the 2017 Iceland Airwaves Music festival, cultural interviews produced during our Iceland trip and hear our preview interviews we produced before we arrived.
You often hear that Scandinavian countries like Iceland have a strong reputation for women’s rights. Closing the gender gap, or giving new parents generous maternity leave. But Iceland sees many cases of domestic violence towards women, despite its increased equality. This is called the “Nordic Paradox”; few resources exist to address the issue. The Center for Gender Equality Iceland found that by the age of 16, 42 percent of women had been abused and 22 percent had experienced it in close relationships. The numbers are not much different in the U.S. Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner and women between 18 and 24 are most commonly abused in the states.
Out of the more than 323 million people in the U.S., there are 2,991 shelters and centers for domestic abuse. In Iceland, there are only six resource options for 334,000 people. While its small population could be a reason for the few domestic violence resources, Sigþrúður Guðmundsdóttir says it shouldn’t be that way. She is the director of the only women’s shelter in all of Iceland called Kvennaathvarf, which has been active since 1982. She says domestic violence is gaining more awareness in the country but survivors still need more resources, especially in small towns across the country.
Ragna Björg Guðbrandsdóttir is the project manager of Bjarkarhlíð. She says the new center has been a positive addition to the community and in the last six months, the center helped 193 people. 175 were women. Seen below, its nestling in the city woods of Reykjavík makes it a comfort station for many.