Four friends attending the secondary school Menntaskólann á Akureyri have made it their mission to see to it that courts in Iceland give harsher punishments for sex crimes.
The discussion of sex crimes in Iceland has lately turned more towards the courts, as it has been pointed out that the law allows for up to 18 years in prison for rape, but the harshest sentence handed down for such is only a few years. Typically, those charged serve a suspended sentence and pay a fine.
Katla Eiríksdóttir, a sixteen-year-old girl from Akureyri, told DV, “We felt that these sentences that have been given in the past have been too lenient.” As part of a school assignment they were given – to have an influence on Icelandic society – Katla and three friends took it upon themselves to see to it that the courts begin to give heavier sentences for sexual assault.
Katla cited statistics from The Organisation Against Sexual and Domestic Violence which show that one in five Icelandic women will experience sexual violence against them at some point in their lives, as well as one in ten men. “These statistics are very shocking,” she added.
Katla believes that harsher sentences will serve as a deterrent, but also that it is a question of justice. “It is unfair that perpetrators sit behind bars for only a couple months or years, while their victims have to endure for the rest of their lives,” she says.
The courts have reasoned that they are simply following past precedent; issuing sentences that have been given in the past for similar crimes. However, it has been pointed out that the courts have no problem breaking precedent when it comes to drug crimes, and handing out harsher sentences in that area.
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