Examples of women who have signed away custody of their children because they couldn’t understand what they were signing have been brought to media attention. In addition, three foreign women are taking the Directorate of Immigration to court for having their residence permits taken away on the grounds of being in “false marriages” with Icelanders.
Sabine Leskopf, the vice chairperson of the Women Of Multicultural Ethnicity Network, spoke to radio station Rás 2 yesterday on the matter. She pointed out that there have been examples of foreign women who, despite having the right to an interpreter at such government offices as the county seat, have nonetheless ended up signing away custody of their children for not understanding what is written on the paperwork put in front of them.
While government offices should be offering interpreter services to foreigners who do not understand Icelandic well enough, this apparently does not happen in every instance. Leskopf said that many of these women are told by their soon-to-be-ex-husbands that men or Icelanders have priority in child custody cases, denying them access to all available information.
Chairman of the parliamentary general committee Róbert Marshall told reporters that he was shocked by this news, and intends to bring up the matter in committee.
In related news, three women are taking the Directorate of Immigration to court over what they believe was being unfairly denied residence permits when the directorate came to the conclusion that they were not in “real” marriages, but had only married to get said permits.
Katrín Theódórsdóttir, a lawyer for the women, told RÚV that it is obvious that the directorate has been tightening controls on residence permits, although she would not say if she believed this was because of the current state of the job market. She does believe, however, that the directorate is becoming too intrusive into the private lives of people, and has questioned by what standard the directorate determines a marriage to be “real” or not.
Informational Literature For Foreign Women Living In Iceland