From Iceland — Foreign Women Especially Vulnerable in Cases of Domestic Violence

Foreign Women Especially Vulnerable in Cases of Domestic Violence

Published December 2, 2009

A new study conducted by Safe Shelter shows that women from outside of Europe are especially vulnerable in cases of domestic violence.
Data pertaining to 67 women of foreign origin who sought help from Safe Shelter – a shelter for victims of domestic violence and rape – showed that women from outside of the European area are especially vulnerable, due to the so-called “four year rule”; a portion of the Act on Foreigners which stipulates that a woman from outside of Europe who marries an Icelander, obtaining a residence permit in this way, has her residence permit directly connected to being married for the first four years.
Hildur Guðmundsdóttir, a manager at Safe Shelter, told Vísir, “If these women complain [about their living conditions], these husbands say to them, ‘If you don’t like it, then I’ll just send you packing.’ They are in this position that their residence permits are connected to the approval of their spouse.”
Other examples were brought up in the study, such as a woman who was brought to Safe Shelter by the police and was not even able to tell authorities where she lived, because she’d been kept in solitary confinement and didn’t know her own address.
Guðmundsdóttir recommends a change to the Act on Foreigners that would necessitate women who marry Icelanders to come to the Office of Immigration, alone, to be informed of their rights in this country.
If you are or know someone who is possibly a victim of domestic violence, click here for more information.

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