From Iceland — Seeking to Improve the Rights of Women from Outside the EEA

Seeking to Improve the Rights of Women from Outside the EEA

Published November 17, 2010

A parliamentary proposal calls upon a work group to be assembled and given the task of coming up with a way to better protect the rights of women from outside the European Economic Area who end up victims of spousal abuse.
As the proposal explains, the Women’s Shelter has reported that a large number of women who come to them seeking help are from countries outside the EEA. What makes their cases especially difficult is on many occasions, the residence permits of these women are dependent upon their being married to an Icelander – they are brought to Iceland without any gainful employment, receive a residence permit by virtue of marrying an Icelander, and are then in many cases kept at home in a state of isolation and abuse.
“The protection of women against spousal abuse touches upon the foundations of their existence and safety,” the proposal reads in part. “If the reality is such that violent men in this country choose women from outside the EEA due to their having a weaker position in Icelandic society, then the Icelandic government needs to respond fast and well.”
30 MPs – nearly half of parliament – spoke up in support of the proposal. While they represented every party, supporters hailed predominantly from the Social Democrats and the Leftist-Greens. The proposal itself was drafted by Social Democrat Þórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir.
The proposal still needs to make its way through committee and additional rounds in parliament, but total multi-partisan support indicates that its ultimate passage is likely.

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