The Ministry of Welfare has released the results of a new study on domestic violence in Iceland, and the results show signs of encouragement, even as domestic violence remains a major problem.
The ministry contacted thousands of Icelanders for the study, conducting surveys and compiling data from police and crisis centres.
About 22% of women say they have had violence inflicted upon them in a relationship at some time from the age of 16. This is equivalent to 23,000 to 27,000 women in Iceland. 6% said this violence had been sexual, and between 1 and 2% said this had happened in the past 12 months. 24% said they believed their children had witnessed this violence.
However, one bright point in the data is that a proportionately greater amount of women who have been victims of domestic violence are separated today (51%), as opposed to married (17%) or neither married nor separated (7%). The ministry interprets this to mean that most women who find themselves in this situation do leave their partners.
Few women contacted the police when violence occurred (13%), but of those who did, 65% said they were pleased with how the police handled the situation, while 35% were not.
Most women who did not report the incident to the police did so because they felt the violence was not significant enough to warrant calling the police (44%), while 20% said they wanted to deal with the matter themselves, and 9.5% said they were ashamed or embarrassed.
The report overall says that police handling of domestic abuse matters has improved, and that more women are reporting such incidents to the police. This, the ministry believes, is the result of new and special training the police have been given on domestic violence.
The report in its entirety can be read here (.pdf file in Icelandic).